|Modifying Child Support by Agreement |
|Agreement in Best Interest of Child|
To promote the amicable settlement of disputes, the Family Code permits the parties to enter into a written agreement modifying prior agreements or orders regarding child support. If the court finds that the agreement is in the child's best interest, it must render an order in accordance with the agreement. If the court finds that the agreement is not in the child's best interest, the court may request the parties to submit a revised agreement or the court may render an order for the conservatorship and possession of the child.
NOTE: The agreement to modify support does not need to be based on a material and substantial change of circumstances, as is required for a court-ordered support modification.
Written Agreement Required
In order to be enforceable, the agreement must be in writing. Oral agreements are not enforceable. Moreover, written documents do not suffice as formal agreements if they do not evidence the parties' intention to be bound.
Informal arrangements not enforceable.
The Family Code does not give parties the right to make private agreements regarding child support without court approval. Informal contracts regarding these matters are considered against public policy and thus unenforceable.
Subsequent Treatment of Order.
No appeal from agreed order. A party who has agreed to a modification may not then complain of the modification on appeal.
Subsequent modification allowed.
A party to an agreement that was incorporated into an order may seek a modification of the order based on a subsequent change of circumstances. Any provision in an agreement incident to divorce that purports to limit a parent's right to seek modification of child support in the future is void as against public policy.
Terms of an agreement contained or incorporated by reference in the order regarding conservatorship or access to a child may be enforced by all remedies available for enforcement of a judgment, including contempt, but are not enforceable as a contract.