Parents should be aware that the county child support agency is not bound by any informal agreements the parents make between themselves to decrease or increase the amount of child or spousal support. Neither the county agency nor the court is aware of these agreements and if they are not entered formally by the judge, the informal agreement cannot be enforced. As a result the child support agency will do one of two things. If the parents had agreed to decrease their support informally, the agency will continue to keep records on the higher support payments. The paying parent will then accumulate arrears on the agency records and the payor can have his/her tax refund and license seized and may be found in contempt. If the parents had agreed to increase support payments informally, the child support agency will not necessarily acknowledge the additional payments. Therefore, the safest option is to enter an agreement as an order signed by the judge indicating the amount of the new support payments, including the start date of those new payments.
While some of these procedures may seem like overkill, I have represented numerous clients who attempted to proceed informally or without representation and were later acquired to retain an attorney and pay more in fees than they otherwise would have to fix the problem rather than have agreements drafted properly in the beginning. It is almost always more economical to retain an attorney to properly draft and enter agreements in the beginning then later in an attempt to fix problems in previous orders. I encourage you to contact me or comment on this blog to discuss the structure and fairness of your current support orders.