We have been separated for a few years following our filing for divorce but we haven’t completed it yet. We went to mediation and agreed to custody, but she took me to court for child support. The judge awarded an amount, but my wife and I agreed that I could pay a lower amount.
Can I get in trouble if I pay what we agreed on, and not what the judge ordered? What is the next step to finalize the divorce?
I do not know all the facts of your case so I cannot give you specific advice, only general information.
If the court has ordered you to pay an amount of temporary child support, that is the amount you must pay. Paying lower support based on verbal agreements between parties is one of the biggest mistakes non-custodial parents make. You cannot change the Court’s orders on your own. If you don’t pay, you could be risking an accumulation of arrearages, fines, contempt charges, and even jail time.
Often you can modify the amount of child support in the final divorce decree, or you and your wife can possibly execute an affidavit stating that you have paid the full amount. Child support laws are state specific so I cannot give you specific advise about whether these options will be available to you. You should speak with an attorney in your area for further information.
You will know your divorce is final when you receive a judgment of dissolution. For the Court to decree your marriage dissolved, you will need a separation agreement to divide up all of your marital and separate property. You will also need a parenting plan which puts your custody arrangement in writing. This is usually done in a parenting plan. These two documents can be tricky and I would recommend you speak with an attorney in your area immediately to draft these documents for you. Non-contested divorces are often simple and affordable and it may be worth it in the long run to know it was done right.
This answer should not be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you need additional legal advice or representation, you should speak with an attorney in your area immediately.
William Halaz, III is a Staff Attorney in the Arnold, Missouri office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. Mr. Halaz is licensed to practice in the state of Missouri. Mr. Halaz received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Southeast Missouri State University. Then continuing his education, received his Juris Doctor from St. Louis University’s School of Law.