After child support has been set, it is not uncommon for the parent receiving child support to request an increase in support years later when the child(ren)’s needs have changed. Some ex-spouses may resolve to avoid working with lawyers and going to court and try work out an agreement on their own.
As a general rule of law, in Illinois, parents seeking to modify a child support order should always seek the court’s assistance and enter a court order reflecting the change in child support. Even if the ex-spouses are on the most amicable of terms, the terms of the agreement are fair and reasonable, and the agreement to change child support is reduced to a writing signed by both parties, the court may not recognize the modification as valid and enforceable.
For example, in a current case, the ex-wife wrote a letter to the ex-husband more than 13 years ago and proposed that he pay an increase in child support. In exchange, she agreed that she wouldn’t pursue an action in court against him for an increase in child support. The ex-husband agreed and paid the ex-wife an increase in child support for several years per the proposal. Thirteen years later, the ex-wife filed an action against the ex-husband claiming that she was entitled to an even larger increase in child support. The ex-husband argued that the ex-wife couldn’t get an increase because she agreed to modify the child support via her letter.
The court has yet to decide if the agreement between the parties is an enforceable modification. However, if the terms of the agreement has been reduced to a court order, the ex-husband would have protected.