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When to Go to Court for an Agreement in Family Law

For family law cases, unofficial agreements aren’t enforceable. This is true whether the agreement is regarding property division, child custody, child support, or anything else. The only way to hold the other party accountable is to have a legally binding agreement, which usually means going to court.

It makes sense that you’d create agreements to plan for the future as you go. Figuring things out in court can take a while and takes extra time and money to do. But, in most cases, having the court sign off on any agreements or updates is the only way to make it legally binding.

Read on to see how agreements look and play out in different types of family law cases.

Types of Agreements

There are different recommendations of how to proceed depending on where you are in the process and what you are agreeing on. There are three main times when informal agreements are made:

  • Child Custody and Support Agreements Without Prior Orders
  • Modifying Current Child Custody and Support Orders
  • Property Division Agreements Before Divorce/Separation

No matter what you do, it’s always good to speak with an attorney even if it’s just to know what to do if things go wrong. If you need help now or need help planning, speak with an attorney who focuses on only family law like Sterling Lawyers.

Child Custody and Support Agreements Without Prior Orders

This section covers parents who are married but not yet divorced or parents who are unmarried but don’t have a custody/support order yet.

Parents who are figuring out child custody and placement as they go don’t have the security a court order provides. With a court order, outlines everything from who makes major decisions for the child to who gets the child on what day. This means you don’t have to figure things out on the fly and the other parent can’t change their mind on you.

And without a court order, any child support paid is unrecorded and unenforceable. Since it is unrecorded, there isn’t proof that it has been paid. This means when the court does make an order, the payer could be ordered to pay extra in back pay. Then, because it isn’t enforceable, if the payer stops paying, there is nothing the receiver can do to get immediate help.

Modifying Current Child Custody and Support Orders

This section is for parents who currently have a child custody or support order and don’t know when to go back to court to modify the order.

It can be hard to decide when to go back to court to get the custody order officially changed. In your initial parenting plan, there should be a section outlining what to do for minor changes. Minor changes include things like if a parent just needs to make a temporary change to a drop-off time or if the child is moving into middle school and it is close by. You don’t need to go to court for smaller things like these.

However, if there is a major change such as a parent moving or getting a job with a new schedule, it is best to get the order updated. If you don’t get it updated, neither parent can be held to the new agreement if they decide they don’t like it.

For changing a child support order, any change should go through the court system. If you don’t go through the court system and the payer wants to pay less, the amount they don’t pay will count as child support they owe.

Property Division Agreements Before Divorce/Separation

This section is for married parties who either want a backup plan or who plan on getting a divorce or separation.

If before marriage the couple wants to exclude things from property division, they can get a prenuptial agreement. Parties can also decide to exclude things after they are married, but they get a postnuptial agreement instead. But postnuptial agreements don’t usually hold up in court if it is gotten when a party plans to get a divorce soon after.

These agreements aren’t created in court, but going to court is required if you plan on getting a divorce or separation. If you are divorcing and both parties agree on how to split the assets, going through mediation is a great option. In mediation, parties work together and there are usually less disagreements.

For Immediate help with your family law case or answering any questions please call (888) 240-8146 now!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I modify a custody order?

To modify a child custody order or agreement, you file your case and work it out in the courts. If it is a minor change and both parties agree, you can log it in your parenting plan and continue.

At what age can a child refuse visitation?

A child’s opinion will always be taken into account in child custody decisions. And the older they are, the more weight their opinion will carry.

How do I change my child support order?

To change your child support order, you need to file the necessary paperwork with the courts. After filing, the court reviews your case, and you have to prove there has been a significant enough change.

How often is child support reviewed?

Child support is usually reviewed every three years. It can be reviewed sooner if there has been a major change in circumstances.

Who gets the house in a divorce?

Who gets the house during property division depends on who wants it and who can afford it. If neither party wants it, it can be sold. If one party wants it, they have to buy out the other party. If both parties want it, they have to figure it out or the court will decide.

How long do you have to be married to get half of everything?

There is no set amount of time where you get half of everything in a divorce. All marital property is split between the parties. And the longer parties are married the more likely things are to be considered marital property.

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