When a Texas couple ends their marriage, one parent may be required to pay child support to the other. However, parents may participate in the decision regarding this child support rather than simply going through litigation and having a judge decide. Parents will need to decide the amount, duration and frequency of the support, and the arrangement must be one that is compatible with state laws. A judge will review the parents’ written agreement and may hold an informal hearing to make sure both parents understand the terms of the agreement and that it was negotiated fairly. The agreement will then be made legally binding.
More formal methods of reaching a child support agreement may involve alternative dispute resolution processes. In mediation or a collaborative divorce, parents and their attorneys try to work out conflict and reach an agreement that suits all parties. Arbitration involves bringing in a neutral person who listens to both sides and makes a decision. However, parents may not have to follow the decision, or certain points might be renegotiated later in court.
More informally, parents might negotiate the terms of the child support agreement. In some cases, parents may leave the negotiation process largely up to their respective attorneys.
Working out issues around children may be the most difficult aspect of a divorce. However, if parents strive to make decisions that are in the best interests of the children, they may be able to reach fair agreements. For example, experts increasingly think it is important for children to maintain relationships with both parents after a divorce. This means that just because a parent disagrees with the other’s lifestyle or beliefs, as long as the child is not in danger of abuse or neglect, it is better to allow the child ample visitation time or to share custody.