Thursday, March 5, 2009

Child Support in California: Never "Locked In"

A California appeals court has now come a step closer to saying that parents simply can't ever make a binding agreement to "lock in" an amount of child support, regardless of changes in parents' fortunes. As long as everyone agrees that an amount of support is correct, there's no problem, but as soon as someone has a change of heart an agreement that child support can never be modified downward is of no more effect than an agreement to cap its modification upward.

This wasn't as comforting to the paying Dad requesting the modification as it might have been, since the same court also affirmed the trial court's considering a continuous stream of cash "gift" or "loan" payments from his mother, (some of which Dad then paid back to his mother as rent) in setting the new amount of support Dad was to pay.

This decision bookends neatly with a series of California decisions which seem to suggest that once there's been a court order for the payment of child support, that money remains due and payable, and the parties likewise can't make a binding agreement waiving any payment, or accepting a reduced amount, for any payment due.

Marriage of Alter 2/26/09

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