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Can a couple negotiate a child support agreement in mediation?

| Sep 12, 2020 | Mediation |

Mediation can be an effective tool for divorcing couples in Virginia to negotiate the terms of their separation with a neutral third party. Not only can the process make the divorce relatively more amiable, it can also give spouses a greater degree of control over the outcome of their divorce.

Mediation is appropriate for everything from property division to custody plans. It can also resolve divorce aspects like spousal support and child support.

Mediation for child support

Rather than having a court rule on child support, many couples choose to work out an agreement through negotiation. As Virginia State Bar explains, some courts may even order couples to attend mediation and attempt to negotiate an agreement before making a ruling.

Mediators will use Virginia’s child support guidelines as a baseline and negotiate a satisfactory agreement from there. Both parties will need to provide in-depth, documented financial information before the session can begin.

Considerations for mediation

To participate in a mediation session for custody or child support, the father must establish legal paternity. He may already be a legal father if the child was born after the date of marriage. But he can also establish paternity through a statement under oath, through a blood test showing DNA fatherhood or through legal adoption papers.

Agreements a couple establishes in mediation become legally enforceable once a judge approves them.

The most important prerequisite to mediation is willingness. A court may order you to attend mediation, but participation is ultimately voluntary. No one can coerce you to settle an agreement in mediation, and either party can terminate the session at any point.