A divorce is often a messy, complicated, emotional journey, even more so when it involves minor children. Sometimes, couples may try to forge a shortcut on that journey by agreeing to waive child support.
When the parties to a divorce reach an agreement, courts often approve. This is not always the case when the agreement involves child support.
Reasons for waiving child support
There are many reasons that couples attempt to agree upon waiving child support. For divorcing couples, the most common scenario is that the custodial parent agrees to waive support because the other parent agrees to a less favorable visitation schedule or property division. For unmarried couples, the custodial parent may agree to waive child support because the other parent agrees to waive visitation or custody. Child support negotiations are often contentious, and many couples just want to avoid another argument.
Problems with waiving child support
Parents who agree to waive child support seldom do so with the intent to harm their child. However, the purpose of child support is to benefit a minor child, and that minor child is never a party to the agreement to waive support. Under California law, parents must act in their child’s best interest. Furthermore, both parents must support and provide for their child.
The California Family Codes, combined with case law, are clear that parents may not agree to waive child support. Furthermore, because attempting to do so goes against the child’s best interest, agreeing to waive child support could potentially hurt a parent in court proceedings.