What You Should Do If You Cannot Afford to Pay Child Support

Child Support Lawyer

Child support lawyers frequently receive phone calls from a caller who asks us something like “I can’t afford to pay for child support, what can I do?” In the United States, lawmakers established guidelines for the child support system. These were aimed at providing children of divorced families with the necessary financial support they required to maintain their standard of living. Like other legal systems, there are flaws. It is not uncommon for the family court to order a parent to pay child support even though they cannot afford it. When this happens, they incur penalties which results in a financial downfall, and in some cases, other consequences such as wage garnishment, property liens, or incarceration. To make matters worse, these parents tend to be wrongfully mislabelled – even though they never intended to miss a payment. If you are in a situation that has caused you to be unable to pay for your child support, there are resources available. To learn more right now, call a child support lawyer. 

Options for Parents Who Are Unable to Make Child Support Payments

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average child support deficit between support payments due and what has been paid was $1,821. Across the country, $32.9 billion in child support was owed, but only $22.5 billion was paid – leaving a deficit of $10.4 billion. As a child support lawyer, we can say that this is a problem that should be addressed by the government. Until that happens, there are options for parents who cannot pay child support. 

If you are in a situation that might include job loss, incarceration, or being evicted from your home, you should call the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The Department of Child Support Services website for your state should list this contact information. You can talk with this office about your financial situation and your inability to pay. 

You may be asked to complete a document that will ask you to describe your situation and how it has changed. You will also need to include your financial information. If the office decides your claim is valid, they may help you to work out a payment plan. In general, the state would rather you pay less than nothing at all. 

Talk with Your Ex Spouse or Partner

Regardless of the relationship you might have with your ex, you should be open and honest about what is going on. This is not legally required, but often helps to avoid a legal situation. It might also prevent your ex from putting you down or mislabelling you. A child support lawyer knows of many cases that have involved upfront honesty and open communication. This tends to reduce tension and encourage healthy dialogue that benefits everyone involved.

When You Have to Go to Court

If you have been ordered to attend a court hearing because of the failure to pay for child support, you should not miss the scheduled date. Missing this date will very likely make your situation worse, and could result in a warrant for your arrest. If you have concerns about this, you may want to consult a lawyer, like a family lawyer from the Law Office of Daniel Wright

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