In most divorce cases or cases involving the allocation of parental responsibilities, there is usually a child support order issued by the court. Those obligations, as orders of the court, are not modifiable except with another order from the Court. However, many people find themselves in circumstances where the circumstances of their co-parenting relationship change, sometimes the initial parenting schedule which was ordered by the court, gets changed for various reasons. Perhaps one or more of the children want to spend more time with one parent over the other. It could be that one parent moves so that it makes it harder for the same parenting schedule to be reasonably exercised. When parties reach agreements to change parenting time, it is understandable that they don't want to create conflict by going back to court, and they simply come to a verbal agreement to change the terms of court orders without ever presenting those changes to the court for the court's approval.
The risks in not involving the court in changes to parenting time or child support, can be significant. When parties change a parenting plan, it will likely also change the child support that would be paid if the parenting time is changed. Sometimes in modifying child the parenting plan, the parties will also agree to modify the child support to what they think is fair. They aren't using the child support worksheet calculations that the court would use and they may even agree to forego future payment of child support when that parenting plan is verbally changed between them. The risk for the person who was ordered to pay child support comes about because if you fail to pay the amount of child support that was ordered by the court, and you pay less or pay nothing at all based on your agreement with the other parent, the amount of support, there is an automatic judgment on any amounts which are less than the court ordered child support amount. That judgment accrues interest at 12% and is compounded monthly.
Additionally, a party receiving child support can file a verified entry of support judgment to collect any unpaid child support, even after agreeing to change the court ordered amount of child support. Because a parent who is ordered to pay child support is assumed to understand that any unpaid child support is subject to an automatic judgment, no notice of the verified entry of support judgment need be sent to the parent ordered to pay child support. The failure to pay even a couple of hundred dollars of child support per month, can result in additional interest of thousands of dollars over the span of several years. Bank accounts and wages can be garnished with the verified entry of support judgment and liens can be put on real property.
Anytime that there is a change in parenting time that parties agree to, or that parties allow to happen, it is important to speak to a family law attorney as soon as possible after any change in that parenting time to protect the party who has been ordered to pay child support so that they aren't served with a support judgment which exceeds the original child support order by hundreds or thousands of dollars. Thomas Law Group has the experience to help avoid problems that a party ordered to pay child support, may not understand when a parenting plan is changed.