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Am I allowed to bargain away child support?

To follow up on a previous post, as is the case in virtually all other states, courts in the Phoenix area must follow Arizona Guidelines when setting the amount of child support a parent must pay.

These Guidelines limit when a judge can deviate from them and order more or less support than what the Guidelines call for, and this is true even if the parents are in agreement or wish to bargain over support in exchange for some other benefit.

Specifically, courts have to consider certain factors when they are ordering an amount of child support, and this is so even if the parents are in agreement that they don't want to receive, or pay, child support. Perhaps most importantly, a judge has to consider whether the agreement will serve the best interest of the child.

Of course, most people would acknowledge that it is best when a child gets financially supported by both parents and also is able to keep up the standard of living he or she would have enjoyed if the child's parents were living together with the child.

As such, it may be an uphill battle for Arizona parents to convince a judge to dispense with child support altogether absent some unusual circumstances. However, this does not mean that parents cannot be at least somewhat creative when it comes to paying child support.

For instance, only with Court approval, if a parent is uncomfortable making a cash payment, he or she may be able to agree to pay certain bills he or she otherwise would not be obligated to pay or may wish to set up an account or other fund for his or her child. This would be a very unusual circumstance for a couple of reasons.  Child support is to help pay for everything in the household, a portion of housing, utilities, food, transportation, etc.  Non-cash support may make it difficult on the receiving parent.  Second, many times such a non-cash payment agreement is a way for the paying parent to exert control over the receiving parents use of the child support.  Before considering agreements of this nature, however, it is best to have an attorney's assistance or advice.

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