Ask A Lawyer: Can We Agree On Child Support Amount?


If my spouse and I are in agreement, can we set the child support amount?

 Or will the courts automatically award the child support amount based upon the state guideline?






While the parties may stipulate to child support arrangements other than state guidelines, the court must approve the arrangement to assure that the child is properly provided for by both parents. Any arrangement approved by the court is still subject to later reviews as provided by the laws of the applicable jurisdiction, such that either party may seek revision of the agreement to provide child support per state guidelines or some other amount in the future.  Therefore, any concessions or trade-offs in exchange for an agreement on a specific child support amount should be made with the understanding that the child support amount agreement is not "permanent."

Parties who agree to their own support arrangements, or forgiveness of past due amounts, without court approval may be subject to court imposed figures, possibly with retroactive effect, at a later date regardless of the agreement depending upon the applicable laws.  Failure to obtain court approval of a carefully drafted order setting forth the agreement puts you at risk of being held liable for what could have been imposed.  A qualified domestic relations attorney can review your situation and advise as to the potential impact of your proposed agreement.



Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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4 comments on “Ask A Lawyer: Can We Agree On Child Support Amount?

    Child Support Adjustment
    You will have to file a motion to modify your child support. The criteria for your support amount will depend upon where your divorce judgment was entered, any subsequent court proceedings, the state in which you currently live, and the exact nature of your wife’s legal proceedings in Texas. You should consult with an attorney in your state or in Texas. Our Texas offices can arrange a consultation to discuss your options, which consultation can be conducted by telephone.

    Child Support Ajustment
    My monthly child support payment was calculated when I was on active duty. I have been in the reserves now for almost a year, making substantially less money than I did while active. However, I have continued to pay the amount that we originally settled on. I am now enrolled in college having to pay for classes and books. My ex-wife lives in Texas now and has had our divorce transferred to a case worker. She is remarried and her monthly income has increased. I can no longer afford to pay the orginal amount of child support and continue to go to school. How would I go about getting the child support payment adjusted to reflect my current income as well as hers? Also, since she is the primary custodian, is there anyway to get her to pay half of our daughter’s health insurance?

    Income for child support
    What revenues are “income” for child support vary by state. If overtime and disability are income for child support in your state, then you would need to seek a deviation from the standard child support either because you can not afford it at this time or she agrees she doesn’t need it at this time. Generally the parties may agree on a deviation from the required child support and, as long as the support provided will be adequate for the child, the court will approve the deviation. However, the child support issues is generally always open to review such that your agreement to deviate from the required support may not last long if your ex-wife later decides that the amount agreed upon is not adequate or your financial situation improves.

    Can my soon to be ex and I agree not to have certain incomes calculated into child suport?
    I am asking because my overtime is not guarenteed and she does not want any of my disability compensation.

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