Child support can be a confusing topic because there are so many different factors that contribute to the payment amount. One parent may be ordered to remit a certain amount per week or month to the other parent, despite the fact a joint custody agreement has been reached. In other cases, no child support is ordered but other types of support may be agreed upon by the parties in a divorce. In some cases, parents are pursued for non-payment of child support and can face heavy costs, penalties, and even jail time.
One question that arises frequently is how to stop child support payments. It is vital that parents understand how child support really works in order for them to avoid getting into trouble with the courts for stopping child support payments incorrectly.
Here are a few tips about payment of child support and stopping such payments correctly.
- Understand how child support really works. Child support consists of payments that are ordered by the court. No one, not even your ex-spouse, can authorize stoppage of payment besides a judge. In other words, your ex simply telling you, “you do not have to pay any more child support,” is insufficient in the court’s eyes to justify non-payment. These days, you may face sanctions, even if you have your ex’s permission to reduce or stop child support payments, if the state becomes involved. Never take anyone’s word about child support; continue to pay child support until you have a court order in your hand terminating or modifying your child support amount.
- You cannot “trade” child support for other privileges. This is a hard fact for many parents to understand. Technically, child support does not belong to the parent; child support is to be used for the benefit of the child. Therefore, the parent does not have the legal right to trade child support away for other benefits. A parent cannot agree to “refuse” child support in return for giving up parental rights, for example. This must be done by a court. Similarly, just because you pay child support does not give you the right to take your children away outside of a visitation agreement.
- Non-payment of child support is a crime. Child support is one of the few debts that can land you in jail. This is because child support is not technically a “debt” but rather an amount ordered by a judge to be paid. You can and will be incarcerated if you fail to make child support payments. So handle your child support obligations legally; never just stop paying child support for any reason.
An attorney may be able to help you fight unfair child support orders through the proper legal channels. By taking responsibility and going about things through the legal system, you will avoid a great deal of problems and may wind up saving yourself money.