MY EX LEFT THE CHILDREN WITH ME DO I NEED TO CHANGE THE CUSTODY AND SUPPORT ORDER?
The short answer is yes. As long as there is a court order ordering support payments you must make those payments until such order is modified. Many people assume that support stops automatically and often people come to my office faced with a contempt motion for not paying support even though they currently have custody of the children. The problem is that they have custody at the whim and discretion of the other party and not by court order. Often a parent thinks they no longer have to pay support in the above situation and are surprised when they receive notice from the state that their license will be suspended or they are summoned to a hearing for not paying the mandated support.
Regardless, of what is agreed upon by the parties and regardless of the fact that you currently have custody of the children it is imperative that you file a modification of custody and support to alter the order currently in place. Now in an action between two individuals it is unlikely that a court will find willful contempt against a parent for months of unpaid support in a situation in which they have had custody; however, the original order will remain in place and the other parent can show up at any time and enforce that order.
This is especially relevant in matters of custody. As long as the original order is in place and has not been superseded by a new order your custodial rights are exactly those referenced in the original order. Just because the children have been left with you does not create a legally binding physical relationship. The custodial parent in the order remains the custodial parent and risking trusting their good will leaves you vulnerable to their change of heart. Often people come to my office distraught because the child they have been raising for several years was not returned by the other parent who had custody in the original decree. They mistakenly assumed that by leaving the child the other parent waived their custodial rights. This is not true; just as with support it is essential that you seek a modification of custody as soon as circumstances warrant a change.
Remember, the orders of the court do not alter or disappear just because the parties agree today. Get a modification of that order.