Can Parents Agree to Another Child Support Amount?

Although New York does have formulas and guidelines that are used to determine child support, parents can also set up their own amount if they both agree to it. This amount can be more or less than the basic child support obligation, but there are a few stipulations in pursuing this route:

  • The agreement has to contain wording that shows both parents were aware of what the child support obligation would be if they had opted for the state child support guidelines
  • The “deviation” (sometimes referred to as “opting out”) from the established amount needs to be referenced in the agreement
  • The agreement must explain the reason for the deviation
  • Parents should be cautioned against fixing child support that is too far below what the guidelines would normally require, because the court can reject or later modify settlements that are not adequate for meeting the children’s basic needs

If you believe that you and your spouse can work things out to create your own child support agreement, it’s recommended that you do so under the guidance of a knowledgeable New York family law attorney.  The agreement can have a significant impact on the lives of your children, so proceed cautiously and factor in all their needs when agreeing to a separate amount.

Bear in mind that the courts do have the authority to deviate from the guidelines in fixing child support if the basic amount is found to be “inappropriate” or “unjust”.  In making such a finding, the court would have to issue a written order about the deviation and explain the reasons that the percentage-based child support guidelines were not used.