What To Do When You Can’t Afford Your Child Support Payments

If you can’t afford your child support payments due to a financial situation that is beyond your control there are several things that you need to do.

You have options when you’re struggling with child support payments.  These options can help you to avoid negatively affecting your relationship with your children’s other parent.  They can also avoid potential legal ramifications.

Contact Your Ex Partner

The first step of dealing with problems with your child support payments is to evaluate your relationship with your child’s other parent.

If you have a good relationship with your ex-partner, then you should make an effort to explain the situation to them before things get out of hand.

However, you should avoid that conversation if your relationship doesn’t allow effective communication.

In this case, the situation could easily escalate and could affect your rights to see your children – even for court-allowed visitation.

Contact The Agency

The next step if you can’t afford your child support payments, or your first step if you cannot communicate with your ex-partner, should be to contact the enforcement agency that handles child support cases.

This should be done as soon as your financial situation changes.

Keep in mind that simply calling someone and telling them that you can no longer afford the payments is not sufficient. The determination of a reduction in your child support payments needs to be made by a judge.

The child support enforcement agencies will be able to provide you with the paperwork that will be required to request a review of your situation and the modification of your child support payment.

The sooner that you get the ball rolling to modify your child support payments the sooner you will be able to get a resolution.  If you simply stop paying or start paying a reduced amount on your own, you will find that the courts will be less likely to see you in a positive light.

You will be very unlikely to reduce any back owed child support balances – even if your financial circumstances can provide evidence of a hardship dating back to when your child support payments stopped or were lowered.

Your original child support payment should have been initially calculated based upon your income.  Naturally, if your income has changed you will need to have this fact evaluated.  It can then be made part of your child support record so that you can avoid any potential legal problems and wage garnishment.

Factors For Denial

Even though you believe that you can’t afford your child support payments, it will be up to a court to determine whether or not your request is one that is valid.

You should keep in mind that your request for a modification of the amount that you pay in child support may not be approved, based on several different factors.

These factors could include the age of the child, or children, along with their needs.

While child support is generally paid to the custodial parent until the child reaches the age of 18, their needs will change based upon age. For example, the need for child care expenses will very likely decrease if the child is over the age of 14 so that may become a determining factor in your being allowed to reduce the amount of child support that is owed.

The bottom line is that the courts that are responsible for making the final determination on your child support case will act in the best interests of the children who are involved.

Ramifications Of Not Paying

You are obligated to take care of your child financially from the date that he is born.  The longer that you delay taking care of paying child support for your child the longer the amount has to accumulate.  If you finally start to make payments you will still be responsible for taking care of the past due balance on your account.

Keep in mind that failing to notify the child support agency of a change in your financial situation can lead to several major problems that can affect just about every aspect of your life.

While these things are very serious, they won’t simply happen overnight. The child support enforcement agencies will send you notices in the mail that will provide you with an opportunity to remedy the situation. If you can’t afford your child support payments, don’t let it get this far.

  • Any tax refunds that may be owed to you will be paid to the custodial parent in an effort to reduce your child support overdue amount.
  • Your driver’s license could be suspended – driving on a suspended license can lead to a whole host of other legal problems that you should avoid.
  • The major credit reporting agencies could receive notification of owed child support, which could prevent you from being able to finance a car, a home, or even land a great job.
  • You could also spend up to six months in jail for failing to pay your child support as a result of being in contempt of court.
  • If you are not an American citizen you may also find yourself facing deportation proceedings as a felony conviction is evidence enough to start the proceedings.
  • Fines, court costs, and attorney costs could quickly add up to an amount that you will not be able to keep up with – especially if you are already in behind on your child support payments.


No matter the reasons for the change in your financial situation it is important that you are a responsible parent.

You must make the effort to provide the child support court with proof that you simply can’t afford your child support payments any longer, despite your strong desire to be a responsible parent and continue making the payments.

If you can’t afford your child support payments, follow these guidelines to try to work through your financial situation so that everyone involved is protected.

Don’t forget that when your financial situation takes a turn for the positive you should once again notify them so that you can continue to be the great responsible parent that your child deserves!

What Do You Think?

Do you have any experience with child support issues?  Sharing them may help someone else!

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