In the majority of divorce actions where minor children are involved, child support payments are ordered. Usually, payments are made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent on a schedule and in an amount that is agreed to by both parties or is ordered by the presiding court. However, there are several circumstances under which the parent who would normally be ordered to pay child support may legally avoid this responsibility.
By Agreement with the Other Parent
If both parents can reach a settlement agreement in which child support is refused, then the court typically complies with this request. Custodial parents may opt not to accept child support payments for a variety of reasons, just as there are numerous situations in which a non-custodial parent might reasonably expect not to have to make support payments. Most often, these agreements come about because the non-custodial parent has limited income or makes less than the custodial parent. Typically, these agreements are negotiated by attorneys and form a part of the divorce paperwork.
Terminating Child Support
In some situations it may be possible to end child support payments that have already been mandated by the court. Doing so sometimes involves a lengthy legal process that is in itself expensive. Moreover, some of the options are not particularly attractive or desirable. A court may grant an end to child support for a person who has lost their job or recently become incarcerated. The death of the other parent may terminate child support payments, as will a significant change in custody such as the children living more in the home of the parent who was paying child support. In some states, child support can be avoided legally if the child is 18 years of age. Other states may require child support until the age of 21.
Other options are less frequently used. A parent ordered to pay child support may avoid the obligation by allowing the child to be adopted by another adult. Contesting the parentage of the children involved is an additional option. Minors who have themselves legally declared as emancipated or join the military are no longer entitled to child support payments.
Legally avoiding payment of child support can be a complicated and time consuming process. Nonetheless, it is sometimes a realistic option. Hiring legal counsel is highly advisable for anyone hoping to legally avoid child support payments.