It is becoming increasingly common for court cases to settle before they ever reach a courtroom. Family law is no exception, and the great majority of divorces are completed through a settlement. An uncontested divorce can be a great option for many couples. An uncontested divorce means that the parties have reached an agreement on every issue in the divorce and signed the appropriate paperwork to memorialize their agreement. If the parties have children, their final agreement will need to spell out the custody and parenting time arrangements for the children. In addition, there will need to be a child support order set. It is not uncommon for people to have a lot of questions about child support, especially with an uncontested divorce.
One of the most common questions tends to be whether the spouses can simply agree that there will be no child support at all. There seems to be a belief that because there is an agreement by the parties, they can agree to whatever they want and the judge will definitely sign off. With child support, this is not always the case. Child support is meant to provide necessities for the child, such as housing, food, and clothing, and judges are often hesitant to sign an order providing for no child support unless there is clear proof that the child will still have all of his or her needs provided for absent a support order. An agreement for no support may be approved where, for example, the parents make the same income and are spending the same amount of time with the child or if the custodial parent has such vast financial resources that child support really is completely unnecessary.
Another common issue for parents in an uncontested divorce is how to properly set income for both of the parties. Where both parties are steadily employed and receive a W-2 from their employer, setting income can be simple. However, if one party is self-employed or one party has been out of the workforce for a long time, setting income can be more difficult. This is an important example of why hiring an attorney is an important step even if you have an uncontested divorce. Setting income incorrectly at the outset can make modification actions later on very difficult.
Finally, people often ask about other expenses. Daycare expenses, medical insurance for the children, extracurricular activities, and other expenses all add up for children. Child support is meant to cover the child’s essentials, such as clothing and housing. Daycare expenses and medical insurance should be divided between the parties in shares that relate to their respective incomes, i.e. if one party makes more, he or she should be responsible for a higher percentage of those expenses. Parties can agree to divide extracurricular expenses if they so desire, but there is no statutory requirement that they do so.
Setting child support can be nuanced and complicated even in an uncontested divorce. We have extensive experience in helping our clients properly address these issues. Call us today for an appointment to talk about your case.