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Parents go to court over out-of-court child support agreement

After multiple costly go-rounds in Las Vegas family court, it can be tempting to simply create an out-of-court, informal agreement with your former spouse regarding alimony, child custody, child support, or any of the many issues that must be resolved in and following a divorce. However, this potential time- and money-saver can end up costing you more of both in the end.

This is what a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is learning after his wife accused him of owing more than $100,000 in back child support payments. The representative has rejected that claiming, arguing that he and his ex-wife had reached a verbal agreement regarding a modification in child support for the couple’s three children.

In his court filings, the representative argues that he and his ex-wife had informally changed their child support agreement several times between 2005 and 2010 because neither spouse had the “financial and emotional wherewithal to continue the battle.” Under the terms of those modifications, he claims, he does not owe his wife any child support arrears.

She does not agree. In a family court filing, she claims that he owes her more than $117,000 in unpaid child support and an additional $10,000 for the children’s expenses. The couple, who was married for 17 years prior to their 2004 divorce, has three children, currently aged 24, 20 and 17.

This complicated situation shows that, despite the added cost and hassle, it is important to have all of your family law disputes heard in court and decided by a judge. This includes all modifications of court orders, no matter how inconsequential the change might seem. If your former spouse violates the agreement, you will want a court document on your side.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Walsh rejects ex-wife’s claim for $100,000 in child support,” Katherine Skiba, Oct. 13, 2011

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