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Settings for child support negotiations depend on parents' needs

Child support negotiations are not always easy, but they are necessary to protect the best interests of the child by providing adequate financial resources. Florida parents have a variety of legal options when it comes to deciding their own child support plans. Parents can use out-of-court dispute resolution processes, or they can use informal negotiation to reach a conclusion. If the parents are unable to reach a decision through these alternative methods, a court order may be required.

Alternative dispute resolution is one of the most popular ways of settling a child support dispute. Parents can use ADR processes such as collaborative law and mediation to reach an agreement about child support payments. The parents in these cases have an active role in the resolution of child support disputes. This is in sharp contrast to a courtroom proceeding, in which parents' child support responsibilities are dictated to them by a judge. Mediation and collaborative law are the preferred methods for making these decisions; the more structured arbitration option is rarely pursued.

If the parents have a strong relationship with each other, they may be able to resolve child support issues in an informal setting with the assistance of their attorneys. In some cases, attorneys play only a minor role, with parents negotiating their own financial needs. The role of the attorneys in this case is largely dependent on the specific needs of that couple.

Finally, child support disputes may need to be resolved by a judge if both parents cannot reach an agreement. In that case, a third party would hand down a judgment about the amount and nature of child support needed to provide for the best interests of the child. All three of these child support dispute resolution settings can yield valid child support agreements; the choice of a specific method is generally dependent upon a couple's individual needs and preferences.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Support by Agreement" Aug. 18, 2014

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