No matter how conscientious you may be about paying your bills, a time may come where you find yourself falling behind through no fault of your own. Emergencies arise, you may lose your job or have some other kind of expense that arises that you simply could not plan for. This can not only lead to you getting behind on your credit card or mortgage payments, but on your child support payments as well. You may find yourself unable to make your obligations, which can put you in trouble with the court system.
No matter what the circumstance may be, there can be a time where one parent is unable to make their monthly obligations or the other parent is simply no longer in need of it. This can lead to a time where the two parents may come to an agreement that child support no longer needs to be paid, maybe even just for a short period of time.
If The Parents Agree, Child Support Can Be Changed or Removed
Because of changes in circumstances for either of the parents, the two parties may agree to forgo payments. This can happen when the marital status of the custodial parent changes, the income of a parent changes, or other circumstances. Thus, it is not uncommon for this kind of arrangement to be reached.
The question is if this is legal or not? Can the two parents decide that child support payments no longer need to be made? Truth be told, any kind of agreement between the parents are enforceable as long as both parents agree upon them. If there is an agreement that is made whether it is related to visitation time, decisions related to education or child support, then there really isn’t any issue at hand. An agreement has been made.
Even if both parents are in agreement that child support can change in some way, the reality is that the court was the determiner of how much support was to be made and how long that support was to be provided. By deciding to have a judge rule in this matter, you have given the court complete authority over matters such as this. This means that the judge is the only person who can determine whether a change in child support can be made, even if both parents are in agreement.
That may seem like an unfair practice, but it was you who went to court for your divorce procedure. The moment you allowed them to determine child support, you obligated yourself to abide by that order.
How to Modify and/or Terminate Child Support
While these changes must go through a judge, it does not mean that if the two parents petition the court to authorize a change in child support payments, the judge is not going to agree. If there is an agreement between the two parents, there is no reason for the court to deny the request.
All that is required of the parents is to make sure that both have petitioned the court and can show that there is an agreement between the two to reduce or increase child support payments if that is the case. It is the court that properly sanctions this agreement, which can then take effect.
You should be aware that there is one particular situation where the court may reject the agreement. If it finds that the agreement may put the custodial parent and the children in jeopardy or reduce the health and welfare of the children, then it may reject it.
This seems like an odd kind of situation, but there are those instances where the non-custodial parent may intimidate his or her former spouse into making this agreement out of fear. The custodial parent would be unable to care for the children with this reduce support, which would authorize the court to deny the agreement, even if both parties state that they agree to this adjustment.
It must be shown to the court that this will present no hardship for either parent if the child support is adjusted or reduced. This may require documentation such as pay stubs, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other expenditures to demonstrate to the court that no hardship would be created.
While Going Before a Judge is Not Required, But Should Be Done
What is important to understand is that if the two parents are in agreement and there will be no issue where one parent will bring this matter before the court, there really is no need to involve the court at all. If both parents can be “trusted” to abide by the agreement then there is no issue.
However, if you are the parent who was required to pay child support, it is really to your advantage to involve the court. All it takes is for the custodial parent to point out that you have not been making your child support payments and you can be in a lot of hot water. This is why it makes sense to play it safe.
Speak With a Child Support Attorney
Before you jump into any agreement like this, it is important for you to consult an attorney. Even if you are in complete agreement with the other parent about an adjustment or rearrangement of child support, covering your bases by consulting with an attorney in ensuring that the actions you are taking are lawful can really help to protect you should things go sour.
Come in and speak to one of our attorneys about a matter like this, to ensure that you are hearing all the information you need to know how to make a competent decision for you and your children. The last thing you want to do is to find yourself in contempt of a court order, simply because you wanted to believe you could trust the other parent of your child.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.
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