Do you need to formally modify child support if you agree?

In many situations, it is not necessary to obtain a new court order if the parties are getting along and agreeing on things.  For example, if the parties agree to change one party’s visitation from Wednesday to Thursday, there is usually no need to have a formal modification.  However, when it comes to child support, it is critical to have a court-ordered modification if you make an agreed change.

I have seen several instances where one party stopped paying child support because the children started living primarily with that parent.  Even if the other party is in agreement and has no intention of enforcing the child support order, it is very dangerous not to change the order.  As far as the state is concerned, you are continuing to accrue an arrearage.

Having an arrearage on the books with the state can be problematic for several reasons.  First, the state can report your arrearage to the federal government, who may take your tax return and apply it to the arrearage.  Next, the arrearage can be reported to credit agencies, negatively affecting your credit.  Finally, the state may start an enforcement action against you in an attempt to collect the arrearage.

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Child Support

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