If we agree on child support and custody, can the judge reject our agreement?

If my husband and I agree on child support and custody in mediation, can the judge reject our agreement?


A judge is not obligated to approve of and adopt as his/her child custody order the agreement the parents may agree upon.

To illustrate this principle in an overly simplified manner, let me give you an example of why that is.

Imagine the parents agreeing to a joint physical custody award when A) the mother is employed as an airline pilot, leaving her gone for several days at a time and subject to a constantly changing schedule that can change at a moment’s notice, and B) the father works from home during the same hours the children are in school so that he can provide personal care and attention for them when they are home. And if there’s any question as to whether mom can make this schedule work, the answer is, clearly and verifiably, no.

A judge may look at that schedule that the parents have agreed to and determine that the schedule was agreed to not because it serves the best interest of the children but because mom the airline pilot threatened to continue to litigate the issue unless dad agreed to a schedule and child support obligation that mom—and only mom—wants (but can’t even exercise due to her work schedule). In such a situation, the judge is not bound to do as the parents agree, but must exercise his/her judgment as to what custody arrangement best serves the children.

So if you and your spouse are trying to settle out of court your divorce issues, including but not limited to child custody, make sure that your agreements are fair and equitable and feasible; otherwise, your judge may reject them.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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