– from Walter L. in Newburg, WI

Question Details:

When my wife and I divorced, the court awarded the joint custody we had both agreed to. I retained physical custody. Child support was not sought or awarded. About a year later, one of our children wanted to live with her mother, so I let it happen. Now, my wife says she is taking me to court for formal custody and child support despite me wanting her back. Can she do that? Doesn't the court have to honor our agreement?

Family Law Attorney Response:

She absolutely can do that, unfortunately for your agreement. And no, the court does not have to honor divorce agreements made by you and your wife.

This is seen in the case of Abel v. Johnson 135 Wis. 2d 219, 400 N.W.2d 22 (Ct. App. 1986) (Overruled in part by Herrell v. Herrell 144 Wis. 2d 479, 424 N.W.2d 403 (1988)). In this case, the court transferred custody to the mother and granted her child support. This is due to the fact that the court does not have to honor agreements between two parties. The court must only ensure that the current arrangement is in the child's best interest.

My advice is to contact a lawyer, discuss the details of your case, and bring legal representation with you to court.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

lexis-nexis-image lawyers-image justia-image hg-image findlaw-image avvo-image