Can Two Parents Agree Upon a Child Support Amount Less Than What the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) Provides For?

YES! The basic right to contract permits parents to either agree upon the presumptively correct child support as set forth within the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA); or to deviate from those guidelines, also referred to as opting out, the terms of which may be incorporated into an Order of Support and/or an appropriately drafted opt out agreement. However, several requirements must be complied with whenever parents agree to deviate from the support obligation provided for within the Child Support Standards Act. First, the parties must acknowledge having been advised of the provisions of the CSSA. Second, the presumptively correct amount of basic child support according to the CSSA, must be calculated, making specific reference to each parties' adjusted gross income. Third, parties must articulate at least one or more acceptable reasons for their agreement to opt out of the presumptively correct support obligation pursuant to the CSSA. These provisions cannot be waived.

In, Warnecke v. Warnecke , 12 AD 3d 502; 784 NYS 2d 631 (2nd Dept. 2004) the Appellate Division found that, since (the) order did not set forth the presumptively correct amount of support under the CSSA, the father was not required to establish a basis to set it aside or modify it, as the Order was void ab initio and the Court was required to disregard it and to address the issue of child support de novo (at first instance).
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