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Bargaining Away Each Other: Not in the Children’s Interest

In Blisset v. Blisset, 123 Ill.3d 161, 526 N.E.2d 125 (Ill., 1998), the parties attempted to enter into an enforceable agreement whereby the mother waived her rights to future child support from the father in exchange for the father waiving his future rights to visit with the children. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the agreement was not an enforceable waiver between the parents since the parents were attempting to “bargain away their children’s interest.” Blisset, 123 Ill.2d at 168, 526 N.E.2d

The Blisset parents seem to have formed an agreement to bargain each other away. Dad essentially disappears from the lives of his children (and Mom), in exchange for Mom giving up her claim to financial support of the children. This is a very negative arrangement on many levels, and it’s not surprising the Court determined that an agreement like this is not consistent with Illinois’ best interest standard and public policy.

Absent evidence of abuse or harm to the children, children of divorce need both parents in their lives. Further, the child support obligation is one that, in theory, flows to the benefit of the child(ren). The parent with primary residential custody most always needs the financial support of the non-residential parent, and Illinois’ statutory child support scheme (though rigid and somewhat antiquated) seeks to provide a level of predictable support.

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