If you are divorced and have children, one party is going to pay child support until the child reaches 19 the age of majority. Even under the best of circumstances between the parties, child support is an issue that can always be reviewed and modified by the court.
Many times, parents will try to resolve child support issues between themselves to avoid the costs of attorney fees. I respect parents that are willing to resolve issues without court intervention. I also appreciate working parents trying to save money on paying two attorneys to resolve problems.
In the case of Collins v. O’Neil, a case from Lee County, Alabama, the parents divorced in 2012. The mother was granted custody of the minor children and the father was awarded to pay $1,19`.67 child support. The father was awarded traditional weekend visitation. After the divorce, the mother moved to Tennessee and the father moved to Georgia. The original weekend visitation became an issue to maintain between the parties.
In good faith, the mother and father executed a new agreement between themselves to alter visitation to every other weekend and the same in the summer. Also, the father would pay an increase in child support in the amount of $1,950.00 per month. The father signed the document and gave it to the mother to file with the court.
In 2014, the father became aware the mother never filed the amended child support and visitation schedule with the court. He quit paying child support because he argued that he had overpaid in the amount of $16,575. The trial court determined that the father had overpaid in child support and reduced his payments to $928.56 a month. Also, the father was awarded six consecutive weeks of visitation in the summer.
The mother appealed the revised child support, for failing to find the
father in contempt of court, and the visitation order. The appellate court
provided a two-part conclusion on review.
The appellate court affirmed the reduced child support the father was ordered to pay. Also, the court held that the father was not in contempt of court because his actions were not “willful”.
The most important issue from this case is that if you and your ex-spouse decided to alter the divorce decree, make sure it is filed with the Court and the Court issues a new Order.
I commend the parties to try and work out issues between themselves. I also respect parents trying to save money rather that hire lawyers. However, in this case, both parties had to hire lawyers in the end and it costs more money than had they reached a mutual agreement and filed it jointly with the court.
It is common for my office to modify a divorce decree and have both parties agree to the new terms and file it with the Court. Save yourself some time, pain, and frustration and hire a family law attorney to help prepare your divorce modification.
If you are seeking to modify your divorce decree for child support, visitation, or alimony, contact Ingram Law LLC, at (205) 335-2640.