California parents may want to avoid going before a judge during proceedings related to child support and other family matters. While a judge must approve any child support agreements or orders, a parental agreement may allow both parties to complete such a matter without facing a judge. However, the rules governing child support agreements are significant, and it is important that both parties understand the implications of an agreement and enter into such an agreement without being coerced.
The state uses a child support formula to compute the recommended amount due based on issues such as income and assets of the parents and the amount of parenting time assigned to each party. In some cases, parents might agree to a lesser amount than that determined by this formula, in which case the parent receiving support must be fully aware of their rights. Similarly, a paying parent might agree to provide more than the minimum required. The court is particularly concerned that the needs of the children involved will be met and that such an agreement is in their best interest.
If a parent is receiving public assistance, a child support agreement must be approved and signed by the local child support agency. Similarly, this type of approval must be obtained if the child support agency has an active case to enforce collection on one of the parties. Parents will need to prepare and sign the appropriate stipulation paperwork so that the matter can be approved by a judge. However, the parents should not need to appear before the judge if all requirements have been satisfied.
A parent who feels that they are being coerced into accepting an agreement might discuss such a matter with a lawyer. If the other party is seeking changes in support levels because of an adverse financial situation, they may be able to seek a modification from the court if necessary.