When it comes to financially providing for children, most moms and dads are stand-up, responsible adults who want to do the right thing: they want to properly support their child in every way possible, including financially. Unfortunately, there are some common child support mistakes that many fall prey to, which we've captured below. Before you make your next child support payment, review this list, and make sure that you're not falling victim to any of these common child support mistakes!
- Myth: If you lose your job, you can skip child support payments.
Unfortunately, your child support obligation doesn't automatically end, or even pause, when you lose your job and become unemployed. When you lose your job, you will need to petition the court to lower your child support payment. You will have to show the court that you are making attempts to find new employment, and that you are not trying to avoid your child support obligations by quitting your job. If the court believes that you are willfully unemployed or underemployed, it has the authority to order support based on your recent, previous income - or even on the income you could reasonable be expected to earn. If you lose your job, do not assume that your support obligations will automatically be lowered - contact us today to discuss what petitions and forms can be filed with the court to appropriately lower your support obligations for the short term, while you job hunt and get back on your feet.
- Myth: If the other parent tells me I can pay less than the court order, I can.
This is one of those nasty traps that so many parents fall into - if you are told you that you can just pay him/her $X amount, instead of the amount ordered by the court, decline their offer, and contact your family law or divorce attorney. The amount of support ordered by a court remains in effect until the court changes it formally - no matter what is said or promised. Any agreement you enter into with your former partner: to pay less per week, to do work for him/her in exchange for a reduction in child support, or any other arrangement is not enforceable in court, and you will be ordered to pay back child support (back to the full amount originally ordered by the court).
- Myth: If I don't get visitation with my child as agreed to, as promised, or as court ordered, I can withhold my child support payment.
Unfortunately, you cannot withhold financial support if your former partner refuses you visitation with your child, even if that visitation is court ordered. The orders for child support and visitation or custody are all separate of each other: you cannot stop paying if you are denied visitation, and conversely, the other parent cannot deny you visitation if you happen to fail to pay child support, or fail to pay your child support in full.
- Myth: My child support obligations will automatically end when my child turns 18 years old.
Many people assume that their child support obligations automatically end when their child turns 18, and while this cut-off age is true for plenty of people, it is not as clear-cut as it may seem. Generally, if your child is still in high school, and up to age 19, you will be required to continue to pay child support as ordered by the court. Additionally, some child support orders will specifically order parents to continue to pay for medical expenses or health care, for their children past the age of 18.