According to a report released in 2015, parents paid $33.7 billion in child support in 2015. The average amount of child support that parents owe is around $287. Only 60% of that $33.7 billion was actually paid.
It’s no secret that child support is expensive. But once you’re locked into paying it, if you’re not careful with making your payments, you could wind up in a lot of trouble. Many parents want to know how to avoid child support.
Getting out of paying child support can be difficult as well. There aren’t a lot of judges willing to let you off the hook just because you don’t make a lot of money. Your best bet is to get a good lawyer in the beginning so you make sure you can only pay what you can afford.
However, if you want to know how to avoid child support legally, keep reading to find out.
Reach an Agreement With the Other Parent
If you can’t afford child support, your first step should be to contact the other parent. If you can both reach an agreement where child support can be put on hold or stopped entirely, then the court usually complies.
If you are on good terms with the other parent, reach out to them and let them know that you’re struggling to pay child support right now. Whatever your reason, be honest and let them know that you are still willing and able to support your child in other ways.
You may be able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement without needing to spend money on an attorney or going to court. Most often, child support agreements are handled during a separation. But if you need to have your case re-evaluated after a judge has already ruled in favor of child support, you may be able to meet in the middle without contacting an attorney.
Meet With an Attorney
If you are not on good terms with the other parent, or you’ve already spoken and they will not agree to lowering or stopping your child support payments, your next step is to meet with an attorney. There are attorneys, like those at Khonsari Law Group, who are experts in child support laws.
A good attorney can help you create a strategy for lowering your child support payment. They will have a working knowledge of the judges in your area and what to look for them to consider modifying your payments.
A lawyer can also help you petition to terminate support. You can only petition to terminate support in a few specific circumstances.
If you have no income at all, most states will allow you to temporarily suspend child support. This is most common when the non-custodial parent has lost their job or become disable and is applying for benefits.
If you are being incarcerated, some states may allow you to temporarily suspend child support.
If your child reaches the age of majority, you can stop paying child support. However, some states require that you keep paying until the child turns 21.
Lastly, if the child dies you will have to file a petition to terminate support.
Obtain Custody of Your Child
Another route you can go to stop paying child support is to obtain custody of your child. A good place to start is to ask your child if they would like to live with you instead of their current custodial parent. But make sure that before you do this, you’re acting in the best interest of the child.
The court will look at a bunch of different factors to determine whether you’re a good fit to be the custodial parent of your child. Many states consider the wishes of the child.
If both parties agree to change the custody agreement, you can just let the courts know that custody has changed hands. However, if the other parent does not want to give up custody, you should prepare yourself for a legal battle that will cost both time and money.
Give Up Parental Rights
Lastly, if you want to stop paying child support legally, you could terminate your parental rights. But this is a final act that will eliminate your ability to have a relationship with your child.
Terminating your parental rights means that you will no longer be able to see, call, or visit your child. All of your legal rights and responsibilities will end.
In some cases, like if the stepparent wishes to adopt the child, you can voluntarily opt to allow them to adopt them.
You could also contest the parentage of the child in question. If you don’t think the child is yours, contest the parentage when the divorce or child support case starts. If you go this route, you will have to submit to a DNA test.
In some states, if you w willfully abandon a child for six months or longer, the state can terminate your parental rights. If this is the route you want to go, check with your state’s guidelines and see if it allows for you to terminate this way.
Keep in mind that, for some states, even if you terminate your parental rights, your obligation to pay child support remains.
How to Avoid Child Support Legally
Now that you know how to avoid child support legally, you know how to lower or completely stop your child support payments. Keep in mind that this is a difficult process that can take some time to go through the courts. Your best bet is to talk with the other parent and see if you can reach an agreement on how much to pay or if you can pause your payments for a certain length of time.
Never stop paying your child support payments without going through the proper legal channels first. Doing so could land you in jail.
For more legal advice, keep reading!