May 23, 2013 | Comments (0)

By Jane Fraier

Negotiate Child Support without Going to Court

While parents usually agree that both have an obligation to financially provide for their children, parents often disagree about how much child support should be paid.  Disagreement becomes even more common when one or both parties want to modify child support as lives and financial situations change as the years go by.  A Massachusetts child support mediator can help to amicably resolve these disagreements. 

Massachusetts Child Support Mediation

Unlike the court, the child support mediator does not order a specific amount of child support.  Instead, the mediator, as a neutral third party, works with both parents to help them reach a mutually acceptable solution consistent with the needs of the child.  Some situations may require a change in the amount of support paid each week.  Other situations can be more readily resolved by dividing up actual expenses, like extracurricular activities, or setting up a periodic schedule for payment of additional money, like at the start of the school year for new clothes.  During mediation, parents can assess their finances and the expenses of child rearing, and create an agreement tailored to their child’s unique situation. 

Any agreement reached by the parents in family mediation is made with consideration of the Massachusetts child support guidelines.  Since the guidelines allow for deviation, mediation is an opportunity for parents to reach a compromise about what amount of child support most accurately reflects the child’s needs.  When parents reach an agreement, changes in child support can be made without filing a contentious court action.  Any agreement on modification of child support should approved and allowed.  The court will usually will approve the agreement, provided it is fair and comports with Massachusetts child support laws. 

Child Support Mediation Creates Better Results

Many parents find that they are happier with the results when they come to an agreement themselves about child support, instead of having the court set the amount to be paid.  When the decision is left to the court, the process can be filled with uncertainty and can be costly.  The Massachusetts child support guidelines are more akin to a suggested amount.  The family court judge has a great deal of discretion, which allows the judge to set an alternate amount whenever it can be shown that it is in the best interests of the child.  If you litigate, this means you must go to court and prove to the judge why a particular amount of support should be ordered. 

Child support mediation also allows parents to preserve an amicable relationship.  The more that parents openly discuss the needs of their child and how each can provide for those needs, the easier it is to co-parent.  When you mediate child support with the attorneys at Fraier & Maillet, we focus on the children while respecting the interests of both parents.  We work to minimize conflict and support cooperation between parents.  We will help you create a child support agreement that may often be a better than the remedy that the court can provide.

Categories: Family Law, Mediation

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Jane Fraier

Attorney Jane Fraier received her B.S. degree in Economics from The College of Charleston and her J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law. Attorney Fraier has practiced law in Northborough since 1992, forming her own family law practice in 1994. She invited Attorney Maillet to join her in 1997, and they formed their firm of Fraier & Maillet in 1999. Attorney Fraier concentrates in the practice of divorce litigation and family law mediation. She is often appointed by the Worcester Probate and Family Court to serve as a Guardian Ad Litem or Attorney for the Child in custody cases, as well as Commissioner in real estate disputes. Attorney Fraier is an active member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of the Worcester County Bar Association, as well as the Family Law Section, where she has served as co-chairperson. She was elected to the clerkship of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, served on the Board of Directors for the MSPCC, and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Calliope Theatre in Boylston, Massachusetts, where she has lived with her family since 1998.

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