Options for determining child support

Pennsylvania parents who are getting a divorce may be concerned that child support will be imposed upon them by a judge, but there are a number of ways that parents can come to an agreement. This is often done with the assistance of their separately-retained attorneys. The issues that need to be agreed upon are how long the child support will last, how much it will be and how often it will be paid.

Parents may enter into informal negotiations on their own, or these negotiations may be conducted in part or entirely by the attorneys. More formal alternative dispute resolution processes are another option. Mediation and collaborative law are processes that parents participate in to resolve conflict and reach an agreement. In arbitration, a third party listens to both sides and then issues a decision that is not necessarily binding unless both parents agree.

The aim in all of these processes is to produce a written agreement that a judge can review. Before making the agreement legally binding, the judge will look over it to make sure that it is fair and that no state laws are violated. The judge may have an informal hearing with the parents to review the terms of the agreement and make sure both parties understand them.

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional time. Alternative dispute resolution methods may help people feel as though they have some control rather than letting a judge make the determination after a trial. These processes may help a couple come to an accord not just on child support but on property division as well as child custody and visitation. An attorney may be helpful in guiding a parent toward decisions that will promote financial stability and that are in the best interests of the children.