In the Matter of Anthony J. Laura and Ericka P. Scott, the Supreme Court found that any modification to an existing Court Order by parties must be put in writing and must be approved by the Court, otherwise it will not have binding effect. Therefore all persons who reach an agreement with their spouse regarding modification of child support or alimony or modification of parental rights or any other modification to the terms of the Decree or Uniform Support Order must keep in mind that this Agreement must be put in writing, be signed by both parties and if applicable their attorneys, be filed with the Court and approved by the Court before that modification has any binding effect.
For example, if a dad was Court-ordered to pay $1,000 per month in child support and subsequently lost his job and Mom agreed, after being notified of this change of circumstance, that the child support can be lowered to $100, this agreement must be put in writing, signed by the parties, submitted to the Court and approved by the Court before it has any binding effect. If this is not done and a party relies upon the spouse’s verbal agreement to accept lower payments, it could potentially result in the spouse, who verbally agreed to a reduction in support, coming back after the other at a later point in time for large arrearages. In the hypothetical above, if Mom waited a year before bringing Dad back to court, Dad would owe $10,800 in arrearages.
Any agreements to modify child support or alimony or parenting rights or anything else should be put in writing, signed by the parties and filed and approved by the Court.
Attorney Michael Fontaine has been practicing for 25 years and focuses his practice on family law. He can be reached at (603) 883-0797.