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How parents may reach child support and custody agreements

When parents in Arizona are going through a divorce, they might need to reach an agreement on child custody and support. However, this does not always mean having to go through the process of litigation. Parents may reach an agreement through negotiation or by using an alternative dispute resolution method.

Negotiating may be done informally by parents directly, with their lawyers or by the lawyers on behalf of the parents. Even if parents do not negotiate with their attorneys present, they may want to have their attorneys review their agreement.

Alternative dispute resolution methods include collaborative law and mediation. While these are more formal processes, one idea behind them is that they are less adversarial than going to court. The aim of ADRs is to help parents reach an agreement that suits them both. Arbitration may be another possibility; although, it is not often used in family law. This involves having a neutral third party decide after hearing both sides. This decision is generally not legally binding. In all of these cases, the goal is for the parents to come up with a written agreement about parenting time and support that can then be reviewed by a judge. There may also be a brief court hearing. There can be legal consequences if a parent violates the agreement.

If the parent paying child support loses a job or has another change in circumstances that could make it impossible to keep up the support payments, they can request a child support modification. This is necessary with a legally binding child support agreement even if the parents informally agree to reduce the amount. The amount of support owed will not change until the court approves the modification, so the parent should not procrastinate on this request. Legal counsel could help with the process.

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