Promisory Estoppel and Child Support - Lawyers?

I have a vague understanding of PE as it may apply to “palimony” suits–it’s sort of like a pre-nup–in that it waives the right of one party to pursue the other party as far as any support/palimony/claims against assets, etc.

Could the same concept be applied to casual sex in order to preclude the risk of child support liability? (My inkling is no because the c/s is owed to the child and not the mother.

Not to mention what a damper it would put on the evening when he whips out his form and says, “Sign here first.”

Anyway, could a PE agreement negate a future claim for child support?

IANAL, but I think you’re right…since the obligation would be to the child, PE wouldn’t come into play.

IAAL, but my legal knowledge doesn’t extend to this area. However, relying on first principles, child support is owed to the child, and the mother is merely a third party beneficiary. So child support would still be owed.

I just thought of an interesting twist, however: it may be possible to have the mother promise to not pursue child support. After all, even though CS is for the child, it’s the mom who files the papers. Some other lawyers, help me out here.
This wouldn’t work if mom’s on welfare and the state takes over the child support rights.


Sua…what would the legally enforceable penalties be if she did pursue child support? Could the agreement state that (1) She would not pursue c/s, and (2) If c/s was awarded, she agreed to return it all to the payor?

Would that be legally enforceable?

I don’t think such an agreement would be enforceable. The child is the key, and her pursuit of support is actually on behalf of the child. While you may be able to make an agreement with a woman not to pursue the support, I think if she breaches, you’d lose.

As a side note, I do have a vague recollection of an Indiana case that held that delinquent child support actually belonged to the custodial parent (since they had already spent their own money to care for the child, presumably). The case involved the children suing the father for delinquent child support after mom died. I believe the court said the money was owed to her estate, not to them. Anyone able to check for that on WestLaw/Lexis?

First, we are outside the bounds of promissory estoppel here - PE refers to a promise, not a contract, a promise upon which one reasonably relies to one’s detriment.

As for the enforceability of a contract not to pursue child support, as I noted in my first post, it was a spur of the moment thought, and I am not sure whether such a contract is possible. However, if it were allowed, the possible terms would be a general release of the mother’s right to file for child support on her child’s behalf. If the contract was allowed, the father could move to dismiss a claim on her behalf, as she has given up standing to bring the suit.

There are huge public policy problems here, which lead me to think that the contract would be considered void, but I don’t know of case law one way or another.


I agree with Sua.