Understanding Child Support in Three Scenarios: Courtroom Divorce, Uncontested, and Mediation

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted July 16, 2020

Changes in a family dynamic affect every member involved. When it comes to navigating a divorce, maintaining a sense of normalcy and consistency is paramount. Establishing a parenting plan that fits seamlessly into a routine is key when it comes to ensuring the best interests of any minor children are being considered foremost. An adjustment in households need not be a disruptive event for families, but rather an opportunity to successfully co-parent.

Of course, co-parenting is not simply a matter of agreeing to a routine. Part of providing the best possible life for our children is taking care of their financial needs. We understand that money is the part everyone dreads talking about! No need to break out the calculators or reach for the migraine relief quite yet. The great news about navigating child support is that you have options. 

Let’s take a brief look at child support in three scenarios – a traditional courtroom divorce, an uncontested divorce, and the Denver divorce mediation approach.  

Courtroom Divorce

There are three main factors that impact a child support determination; the income of each party, their respective parenting time as calculated by annual parenting days, and which party provides health insurance for the children. It is fairly self explanatory that the parent whose gross annual income is highest will be expected to contribute the most. Other factors are less clear, such as the amount of time spent in either parents custody. A good rule of thumb is that any parent who cares for their children at least 40% of the time is considered to have equal parenting time.

This does not, however, necessarily mean child support will be waived. Income disparity goes a long way in determining what is fair and necessary for both parties to be able to raise a child. In addition, health insurance is considered against the total determination. The number of children can, of course, increase or decrease the amount deemed reasonable as well. 

Allowing the court to determine child support is commonly thought of as the default route. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, a traditional courtroom divorce involves either party retaining attorneys (or representing themselves) and advocating for their case. Litigation is typically the more aggressive route, wherein the judge will ultimately issue Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law once each party has had the opportunity to present his or her case.

Findings are definitive and do not leave room for further negotiation. This means both parties agree to adhere to the court’s ruling on the matter of child support. Depending on the state, child support calculations may also be submitted to the Child Support Enforcement Division for determination. Either way, once a decision is made, the obligor may end up paying the set amount for a very long time with limited options for appeal and redetermination in the event of a significant change of circumstance.

Uncontested Divorce

denver divorce mediator

While traditional litigation may be the option most parties think of first, it’s not the only way to go about determining child support. The prospect of leaving one’s future up to the courts can be daunting. 

Many families prefer to resolve their divorce outside of court in order to retain control over items such as child support that will inevitably impact their lives for years to come. In addition, settlements tend be more amicable and empower both parties to make decisions they are comfortable with and that benefit them and their children in the long term. Where courts are often a “lose-lose scenario,” uncontested divorces tend to lead to a settlement that everyone can feel good about.

If a party is preparing to file an uncontested divorce, this means that child support, as well as other factors such as property settlement, has been mutually agreed upon. Unlike the determination made the judge or the state, a settlement need not be in line with a purely numeric approach to child support. This gives the parties the freedom to negotiate and consider other contributions outside of the formulaic approach, such as daycare, extracurricular activities, and commuter costs.

Parties also have the option to agree to pay more in support if they are able or settle on a lesser amount in favor of a more balanced share of non-quantifiable parental duties. Paperwork is streamlined and far more efficient when both parties are in agreement, thus alleviating any financial stress caused by lengthy legal proceedings.

Divorce Mediation

Sometimes parties need a little extra help reaching a settlement. Denver divorce mediation is a preliminary step that families can take prior to either a hearing or settlement. Mediators are trained family law experts available to help navigate the scary unknowns of a divorce.

This can be especially helpful in determining a fair child support agreement. A mediator will act as an impartial third-party and present proposals from either side along with counter proposals. Due to their expansive knowledge of family law, mediators can also present objective facts that will allow each parent to make an informed and reasonable decision. If represented by legal counsel, attorneys will also be present during mediation to advise their clients.

Denver divorce mediation is an opportunity for parties to work together for the best interests of their children. The goal is to reach a compromise that will result in a settlement outside of court. If unsuccessful, the parties will still have the option to allow the court or state to calculate child support and resolve any pending matters.

Planning ahead for your children’s future can be challenging, especially where the matter of child support is concerned. Despite all the anxiety that comes with a change of circumstance, parents should feel empowered by the fact that many options exist for determining a fair and equitable financial agreement. 

Parties considering a collaborative divorce approach will likely fall somewhere in between. Our family law experts can help you navigate an amicable solution through our combined method of reaching an uncontested divorce through Denver divorce mediation . Supportive collaboration ensures that your family’s unique needs are met and everyone feels empowered to embark on this new stage in life. 

Discover more simple solutions for family law matters and contact us today to get started.

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