Cosco v. Cosco - Unenforceable Child Support Settlements

Child custody and child support are often the central issues in divorce cases, as what is best for a child is more important to parents than any division of property or debts. Luckily, the vast majority of family law cases are settled before they reach a final hearing. This allows parents to carefully tailor their parenting plan and custody agreement to suit the precise needs of their family and their children. With a custody agreement must also come child support. If parents wish to come to an agreement about child support, it is possible that they may do so, especially if the issues to be agreed upon are the sums to be used for each parent’s monthly income and extra expenses for the child. If the parents wish to agree to stop child support entirely, however, they will run into some road blocks.

In the 2015 case of Cosco v. Cosco, the court was faced with the issue of whether divorcing spouses can agree that child support will end at a particular date. In that case, the parties were divorced in 2002, and they signed and entered into a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA). The PSA provided they would share joint legal custody, with the wife being the primary parent for the children. The husband agreed to pay child support “unless otherwise provided” in the PSA, until the children attained eighteen years of age. The PSA also provided for contributions to the children’s college education and trips required to see the colleges before the children made their final selections.

In 2013, husband filed a motion seeking to have the court emancipate both of his sons and terminate support. He asked the court to find his older son was emancipated as of July 2012 and the younger son as of August 2013, the time when each son turned eighteen years old. Wife filed a response stating the older son was enrolled full time in college and the younger son was still in high school, and asked the court to deny father’s request and require him to continue to pay support.

The court agreed with the wife. The court pointed to past case law that held parents cannot simply agree to declare a child emancipated and stop child support. The court specifically pointed out that any agreement that attempted to undermine a child’s right to support is not enforceable. Accordingly, the court ruled the husband could not yet stop paying support, as the children were not yet emancipated

If you are trying to come to a settlement with regard to your divorce or custody matter, you need an experienced attorney. Contact us today at (732) 529-6937. We will talk to you about your case and your settlement options.

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