While child support payments or orders are commonly violated – just forty-three percent of parents who are owed child support actually receive it – the consequences are severe. Parents who are unable to pay child support can face orders from wage garnishment to imprisonment, depending on the extent to which they neglected the child support agreement. Unfortunately, no matter how valid their reasons may be for doing so – such as suddenly losing a job or becoming injured and not being able to work – violating these agreements put parents in immediate danger of losing their rights to visitation and even some personal freedoms.
What options, then, do parents who are unable to pay child support have to protect their assets and rights, as well as support their children? Parents who are unable to pay child support may have the option to revise their child support orders in court and make them more affordable.
For example, if a current child support order puts one or both parents’ financial stability at risk, or does not take into consideration a medical condition, such as a disability that prevents the parent from working, a judge may be willing to revise child support orders to make monthly payments more affordable. Additionally, a non-custodial parent who is unable to pay child support orders may be granted permission, by the court, to give alternate forms of support to his or her children, like bringing them clothes, food and other necessities.
How to Modify Child Support Payments
In order to modify parents’ monthly custody payments or change a child support arrangement, a judge may require one or more of the following circumstances to be present in their lives.
1. Significant decrease in one or both parents’ income. If a parent who is unable to pay child support gets demoted or loses his or her primary job / source of income, a judge may consider reducing his or her monthly child support payments.
2. Significant increase in how much responsibility the parent or parents have towards their children. If a custodial parent cannot afford the children’s expenses as they get older, such as college tuition, sports camps and medical fees, a judge may increase child support payments from the non-custodial parent to support the custodial parent.
3. Significant increase in new family responsibilities. If a parent remarries and is responsible for supporting children from the new marriage, and can no longer afford current child support payments for children from the previous marriage, a judge may lower his or her monthly child support payments.
4. Significant increase in income or wealth. If one parent shows a sudden, significant increase in income or wealth, such as by inheritance, the court may increase that parent’s monthly child support payments while lowering the other parent’s payments, if the other makes less gross annual income.
Unable to Pay Child Support? Get Help with Child Support Payments
If you are a parent who is unable to make monthly child support payments, we’d love to help you create child support arrangements that support your best interests and needs, as well as those of your children. Charlotte Christian Law is one of the nation’s leading family law practices, serving hundreds of diverse clients in northeastern Alabama. We have offices centrally located in Birmingham, Huntsville and Fyffe Alabama for the convenience of our clients. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our family attorneys, please contact our office today at (256) 859- 7277. We look forward to learning how to best serve your family at this time.