How to: Mediation for Child Support Success
Many times, couples who are getting divorced in Washington state see child support as everything that isn't. Child support is strictly to help your child. It isn't a punishment because the relationship didn't work out. And mediation is an amazing tool. It helps you and the other parent come up with a parenting plan which will include child support.
We want to help you understand:
- What mediation is
- How it can be a useful tool for child support
- How to make the process successful
Emotions, including anger, may run high during mediation. But you and the other parent can work together through the process.
This article is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice on mediation for child support in Washington state, The Law Offices of Alesha Struthers offers free consultations.
How Can Meditation Help You?
Mediation is a tool used by the Washington State Family Court provided to parents to create a parenting plan that best meets the needs of their child. In the family court system , mediation is a valuable opportunity that allows both parents to hear each other out. They get to set aside their differences to come to an agreement. When mediation occurs, it's your chance to have a voice about what the financial needs are for your children. If you're not able to come to an agreement about child support, the amount will be set by the judge.
How to Have a Successful Mediation
The first step in a successful mediation is preparation. Know ahead of time which types of mediation are available to you. Decide which type you are most comfortable with. Do you want to be in the same room as the other parent? Would you prefer the shuttle method? With the shuttle method, you are in separate rooms. The mediator takes the proposed documents back and forth between the two rooms. Knowing in advance which approach is best for you. This can help your chances of success.
Mediations scheduled four to eight weeks before trial are often more successful. You stand a greater chance of coming to an agreement to avoid trial. Be prepared for mediation to last all day. The most successful outcomes often come from mediation that lasts eight hours
Be prepared to have an open mind. While child support helps support your children, you must be willing to keep an open mind. Remember that the purpose of mediation is to work together to reach an agreement. Mediation for child support is a bit different because the amount that you agree to must be reviewed by the court. The court must approve it.
What Should You Bring to Mediation for Child Support?
Be ready to bring in any documentation that may impact the amount of child support. This may include pay stubs, receipts from extracurricular activities that your child attends, school or daycare expenses, bank statements, and even your tax documents. This information helps to figure a reasonable amount of child support. By using the Washington State Child Support calculator you can get an estimate of the amount that might be ordered for your case.
Yet, if you and the other parent can come to a reasonable agreement about the amount of child support, it may become part of the parenting plan. The judge must review this and approve it.
Keep an Open Mind
Remember, mediation is to help you come up with an outcome that is best for your child. Keeping an open mind and be willing to compromise during mediation for child support is a must. Put aside what you think you should get and focusing on what your child needs should be your main focus.
Negotiation is another key factor. Do not go in with the mindset of “my way or the highway.” This way of thinking adds unneeded speed bumps to the process. It slows things down and sometimes stalls the process out completely. The goal is for you and your co-parent to come to reach the best outcome possible for your child.
Honesty Is the Best Policy…Always
Telling the truth is vital. Do not hide finances or fabricate your child's monthly or yearly expenses. Besides not lying about your finances, you cannot purposefully be unemployed, or underemployed. The court system will look at your proposed monthly payment amount , and the documentation provided. You will pay the higher amount if the court decides you quit your job or took a lesser paying job to avoid paying a proper amount of child support. More importantly, being deceitful to pay less than what your child deserves isn't fair to your child. Don't rob your child of what they need and deserve.
Hire a Skilled Mediation Attorney
Having an attorney skilled in meditation to represent you and give you legal advice during mediation can play a huge role in the success of your child support mediation. This is important because your attorney can give you legal advice during the session. If your former partner has an attorney and you do not, you cannot receive legal advice from that attorney. The mediator also cannot provide you with legal advice.
Can You Waive Mediation?
In cases of domestic abuse, the Washington Family Court system may waive child support mediation . Consult with your family law attorney to find out if this option is available to you. If your case qualifies, there is a form that must be completed and submitted to the court system. If you need legal advice on domestic abuse and waiving mediation, the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers can help you. Schedule your free consultation.
The Law Offices of Alesha Struthers
If you're attending mediation for child support, the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers can help you. Ms. Struthers is a certified mediator, a skilled attorney, and is passionate about helping her clients reach the outcomes that they desire. If you have questions about child support mediation, and what you can expect, or need further legal advice, contact her today for your free initial consultation!
Disclaimer: This publication is not legal advice. It is intended as legal information only. For legal advice specific to your needs, contact the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers, PS at 800-972-0411.
Posted October 2022.