As my income decreased over the years, my ex-wife and I agreed that I would pay her a lower amount of child support than what the court ordered. I have a notarized agreement documenting her acceptance of less child support.
Now she claims I owe her back child support since I did not pay the full court-ordered amount.
Will the notarized agreement allowing me to pay less child support hold up in court or am I on the hook for child support arrears?
I am only licensed to practice law in Illinois so I cannot offer legal advice on divorce on the child support laws in other states. However, generally speaking, you cannot modify a previous child support order by a verbal or written agreement, even if the document is notarized.
In order to modify a previous child support order, you would need to obtain a new court order adjusting your support amount. If your income has decreased since the date the original order for support was entered, you can ask the court to reduce your child support obligation.
In most states, child support is regulated by a state agency, and the state may initiate a court action against you for nonpayment of support. You should contact the court or the state agency to verify your current child support obligation, as well as any past due child support you may owe.
Because there was no court order reducing your child support, you are liable for the full amount of support that was originally ordered, not the lower amount you and your wife agreed to.
Child Support Verbal Agreements:Why They Don't Work
Depending on the number of years you have been paying a reduced amount of support, you could owe a significant amount in past due support. Therefore, it is imperative that you contact the court or state agency as soon as possible to determine the past due amount and your current obligation. If you want to reduce your child support, you should also file a motion with the court requesting the reduction.
Child support laws vary by state, so you should contact a qualified domestic relations attorney in your state to discuss the specific facts of your case and the appropriate course of action to address this issue as soon as possible.