Why You Must Avoid Informal Child Support Agreements
Many parties make “informal” agreements regarding child support, thereby veering from the written court order, but fail to file the new agreement with the court.
While this may be a tempting option in order to avoid legal fees and the hassle of going through the court, the potential pitfalls and ramifications of such informal agreements are costly, and can lead to much higher legal fees and headaches in the long run when you need to hire a divorce lawyer to seek court intervention after the informal agreement goes sour.
The most common example of this practice is agreeing to pay less than the current child support order.
Where I practice, agreeing to modify a child support order without filing said agreement with the court does not modify your actual legal child support duty. You are still obligated to pay the amount last established by the court.
The agreement with your ex is not an enforceable agreement with the court, so if your ex chooses to go back on the agreement you made, she can enforce the original child support obligation currently on file with the court.
As one can imagine, this leads to arguments regarding arrearages owed, resentment toward the party going back on the agreement, and will usually require the man (the person paying the support) to hire a men’s rights attorney to seek a formal modification of child support.
Read Related Article: Common Child Support Mistakes
Further, if you do come to an informal agreement, even if your ex does not overtly choose to enforce the current order with the court, the state can (and will) get involved in your case if your child support arrears accrue to a certain level.
While your ex may agree that you owe her no arrears, if you have paid support lower than the order currently with the court, the prosecutor’s office can pursue a case against you to collect that owed child support. This can lead to penalties such as suspension of your driver’s license; garnishment of your wages, tax refunds, or income from casinos; and even arrest.
Additionally, even if your ex is willing to agree that you have made child support payments and do not owe her any funds, keeping track of payments in kind can be complex and leave a lot of room for error and disagreement on the amount paid.
By simply formally modifying your child support order with the court, you will alleviate most, if not all, of these issues.
By Leslie Lorenzano
If you need help with a child support modification, contact the divorce lawyers for men at Cordell & Cordell.
Use the Child Support Calculator on DadsDivorce.com for an estimated amount of how much child support you should be paying.