No. The court keeps the authority to review any agreement on child support made by the parents. Therefore, all agreements must be submitted to the court for approval and formal entry. If parents agree to modify child support payments without submitting a formal order, neither the court nor the county child support agency will recognize and enforce the agreement. The parents will then face two possible results:
If the agreement decreased child support, the agency will maintain records for the higher support payments. Arrears will accumulate on the agency account, with serious consequences for the payor, including contempt of court or seizure of tax refunds and driver’s license.
If the agreement increased child support, the child support agency will not record the higher payments. The receiving parent will not be able to enforce the higher payments if the other parents stops paying, and the paying parent will not have his/her additional payments recognized.
If parents agree on a child support change, the cleanest option is to have a family lawyer draft an agreement and order showing the new support amount and start date. Involving a lawyer may seem unnecessary if the parents already agree, but the lawyer can ensure the agreement is properly worded and understood. In my experience, many clients who tried to modify child support without a properly-drafted agreement ran into worse and more expensive problems later.
Parents who are considering changing child support should at least consult with an experienced family lawyer to ensure fairness. I am happy to consult with parents throughout Dane, Columbia, Sauk, and other local counties.