Marital settlement provisions that establish child support at a set number are subject to modification and may not be binding.
By Attorney Alyssa Knisely, Child Support and Divorce Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA
I have met with numerous divorce clients that come to me after they have received a divorce complaint from their spouse. Typically, they have a proposed divorce settlement agreement or MSA (marital settlement agreement). The provisions of that agreement, which is also a contract, are usually slanted toward the party that proposes the agreement. Many times, such a proposal contains an established amount of child support that is declared "non-modifiable" or words to this effect. The truth is that these types of provisions are generally not enforceable.
Why are child support provisions in a MSA modifiable?
Contracts between husband and wife, if fairly made, generally are considered binding as to them, although legally ineffective to oust the court of jurisdiction in child support actions. Thus, a provision in a separation agreement regarding child support, visitation, or custody is subject to modification by a court upon a showing of changed circumstances. The parties to a separation agreement cannot bargain away the rights of the children. Visitation and child custody matters will be enforced according to the best interests of the child, and, as with support orders, the agreement will be given advisory effect, but will not be binding on the court unless it is in the child's best interest.