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What is a Child Support Agreement?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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A child support agreement outlines details regarding payments that one parent will provide for the other when he or she assumes the majority of the responsibility for childcare. Such agreements are usually made when the parents live in separate homes. The terms usually allow the recipient to continue receiving payments until children become adults but may sometimes extend longer. In some instances, these agreements are reached privately and in other instances government or legal services are involved.

It is common for couples to have children and decide to raise them while living apart. As a result, the parent with whom the child predominantly resides may seek a contract outlining terms regarding financial payments that the other parent will make to him or her. This is known as a child support agreement. These contracts are often used to eliminate any confusion and debate regarding the finances that the paying parent will provide for the child. They may also be used to provide a ground for legal action in the event the paying parent does not adhere to the agreement.

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Without a child support agreement, it can be difficult to hold a person liable for not doing as he promised or for not providing a sufficient amount of financial care. Once the agreement is in place, however, there are many actions that may be taken if the paying parent defaults on the agreement. Consequences include having liens placed on his or her personal property, loss of professional licenses, and incarceration. More remedies are generally available when default occurs while a person has a contract that was developed with the assistance of child support services.

Each child support agreement is not reached through the same means. Two people can sit down and outline their own terms for the financial care of their children. In some instances, the agreements stem from other legal issues such as custody battles or legal separations and involve lawyers and courts. Child support services are often used when one parent is unsatisfied with the financial care provided by the other or when he or she fears that the other parent will not act appropriately.

The exact terms of a child support agreement can vary but certain aspects tend to be fairly standard. Usually the children to which it pertains are named. The contract tends to include the amount the receiving parent should expect on a weekly or monthly basis. Some agreements outline additional amounts that should be provided throughout the year for special occasions such as birthdays or school shopping. The manner in which incidental expenses such as medical care or extracurricular activities will be handled is also often included.

A child support agreement usually entitles the recipient to continue receiving payments until the child is an adult. In some cases, such as when the child enrolls in secondary educational programs, the payments may continue for several years beyond adulthood. When a child has a permanent disability, such as mental retardation, the agreement may extend for the child's life. There are circumstances that may allow for adjustment of the amount during the tenure of the contract. This is most common when one parent has a significant change of income.

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