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You can’t bargain away child support

Any number of divorcing couples has learned – usually the hard way – that you can’t use child support as a bargaining chip in trying to strike a deal on a property settlement agreement.

A couple in Roanoke is the latest to get this lesson. In Wykle v. Wykle (VLW 007-8-130), the husband and wife entered into a PSA: The dad, “in lieu of” paying child support, would pay the first and second mortgages on the house where the mom and their minor daughter, Savannah, lived until the girl turned 21.

As some point, the dad decided he didn’t like this arrangement and moved to have the PSA declared to be unenforceable. The mom argued that the dad was supporting his daughter by paying the mortgage.

But Roanoke Circuit Judge Charles N. Dorsey struck the PSA. He found that the arrangement, which called for the payment of fixed mortgage payments, deprived the court of its jurisdiction to modify or enforce child support. That violated one of the tests set out in Shoup v. Shoup, the 2001 case from the Court of Appeals on the issue.

As a result, the agreement was unenforceable. Motion granted.

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