Agreeing to a Different Amount of Child Support
The amount of child support calculated using the State Uniform Guideline is presumed to be the correct amount of child support, but it is possible to stipulate to a lower amount. The goals of the Guideline formula include the efficient settlement of conflicts between parents and reduced need for litigation. [Fam. Code 4053(j)]. Accordingly, Family Code Section 4065 allows parties to avoid litigation and conflict in divorce by stipulating to an amount of child support that deviates from the Guideline. However, the court will not approve a stipulated agreement for child support below the guideline formula unless the parties declare:
- They are fully informed of their rights concerning child support
- The agreement is in the best interests of the children
- The order is being agreed to without coercion or duress
- The needs of the children are adequately met by the stipulated amount &
- The right to support has not been assigned to the county and no application for public assistance is pending
The section places an added safeguard to below Guideline stipulated agreements by requiring the local child support agency providing child support enforcement services to sign the stipulated agreement. Moreover, the child support agency is prohibited from signing the agreement is the children are receiving CalWORKS benefits, there is an application for public assistance, or the parent receiving support has not consented to the order.
Modifying Stipulated Child Support Agreements
Stipulated child support orders for less than the amount established by the State Uniform Guideline can be modified without a showing of changed circumstances. Accordingly, the parties have the freedom to seek a modification of the stipulated order down the road in favor of the Guideline amount or above.