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Potential pitfalls in self-done child support agreements

A move toward divorce negotiations with the assistance of a mediator has been getting much attention. Couples who are able to discuss and agree on matters such as child support, alimony and visitation have found the process beneficial for all parties involved. By resolving all issues before going to court, much time and money can be saved, in addition to significantly reducing stress levels. However, Florida parents may be interested in the pitfalls as experienced by a couple from another state.

The couple settled on a personal child support plan that would suit them both, and after they split in June 2013, the man started making monthly electronic payments to the wife. The divorce and child support agreement was only finalized in February 2014, and to his surprise, he received notification in April showing arrears in excess of $2,000 in child support. Upon investigation, he learned that he had failed to carefully read the small print on the child support agreement before signing it. The language he missed was the line that stated that any child support payments not made through job and family services would be regarded as gifts.

While this couple only tried to ease the process through their personal plan, they ended up facing financial difficulties. They had to work through a forgiveness program and, after many weeks, the child support payment was loaded with an additional 20 percent of the outstanding amount, along with service fees and commission. This couple's experience may emphasize the importance of reading legal documents carefully to ensure that nothing is missed.

Florida couples who are working through a divorce may want to make use of the available services through mediators and other representatives to ensure that all documents and procedures are understood. Resolving all child support and other issues before going to court may certainly be beneficial, but seemingly insignificant errors could have detrimental consequences. However, by optimizing the available help, the interests of parents and children may be protected in anticipation of a fresh start for all.

Source:, "Divorce Debacle: Man charged for child support already paid", , May 20, 2014

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