Are You Negotiating Your Child Support, Hoping for a Concession? By Vickie AdamsI was asked to review a division of property. The wife found a neatly typed list of assets, liabilities and valuations complete with a paragraph stating the husband’s rationale for the division on the kitchen table. It was topped by a Post-it Note stating he wanted his wife to approve the agreement first, and then he would be willing to go to mediation.

Concerned that she might agree to a settlement that was not optimal, or worse, struggle alone in a mediation setting, she engaged me to help her understand her overall financial picture.

In order to prepare a workable budget for use in negotiation, I offered to give her an estimate of what the child support order might look like. She wanted to waive her right to guideline child support. She felt that my estimate was unnecessary; they formed their own (very low) number.

I asked her why she would go with such a low number when she was entitled to so much more. She was hoping that he would not seek overnight stays.

Often, a divorcing spouse is willing to settle for a low number, hoping for some concession. (For example, some dads use child support as a bargaining chip in hopes that their wife won’t seek spousal support.) This is not the way California calculates child support; it is not arbitrary. It is based on a formula.

This is California’s website on how child support is calculated:

Child support is a legal obligation to provide financial (and medical) support for a child or children. Monthly child support is designed to cover day-to-day expenses, e.g., the child’s share of your groceries, utilities, rent or mortgage and often child-care expenses when the custodial parent works outside the home. Waiving child support is not the right of the parents. A child’s right to receive support from his or her parents is intrinsic and can’t be waived.

In order to determine child support, you need to present accurate financial information. Not doing so could be the difference between a financially successful settlement or one that’s considerably less so. Even before you see an attorney, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™) will ensure you have the right numbers in place to get a fair settlement. You can refer to my recent blog to make sure you ‘Don’t Skip this Step’.

Vickie Adams Divorce Financial PlannerVickie Adams, CFP®, CDFA