Common Child Support Myths And Misconceptions

According to Very Well Family, of the 13.4 million single parents living in the United States, approximately half receive child support. For many custodial parents, receiving child support from a former partner or spouse was a long-fought court battle. Others were able to amicably come to a child support agreement without involving a judge.

Whatever the case, if you are getting divorced, chances are that you've heard a lot of scary and confusing information about child support. Most of that information is based upon misconceptions. Here are some of the most common child support myths and misconceptions.

My Child Support Payments Are Tax Deductible

A common misconception about child support is that the payer can deduct their child support payments from their federal and state income taxes. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Alimony, or spousal support, is tax deductible, but child support doesn't fit into the equation. Conversely, the payee cannot use child support payments as part of their income.

I Lost My Job, So I Don't Have to Pay Child Support

Child support calculations are based upon several factors, including both parents' income, education, and ability to make a certain income. If the payer loses their job, they might believe that they are no longer obligated to make child support payments. In reality, because of the factors used to calculate child support obligations, the judge can still order an unemployed parent to continue making their full child support payments.

The obligated parent must look for work, take out a loan, or borrow money from friends or family to continue making their child support payment. If the parent cannot find work or is unable to make the payments for another reason, they can petition the court to modify the order.

If the obligated parent refuses to find work or find any ways to pay child support, the judge can garnish future wages or even put a warrant out for their arrest.

Child Support Is Always a Once-a-Month Payment

If you are ordered to pay child support or are receiving child support, you might have friends and family members who receive a once-a-month payment and believe this is the only option. Child support payments comes in many forms aside from check or cash payments. For example, if the child is attending a private school, the judge may order part of the child support go directly toward the tuition. A judge may order a parent pay for a child's medical treatments as well.

Two spouses can work outside of the courts to determine a child support agreement that works for both parties. For example, the child support can be deducted from a parent's weekly check or paid in a lump sum every few months.

Child Support Obligations End When a Child Turns 18

One of the most common and pervasive myths concerning child support is that once a child is 18, which in the United States is legal adulthood, a parent's obligations are finished. If the child turns 18 but is still attending high school, lives with the custodial parent, or has special needs, in most states, the child support order is still in effect.

Even if these laws do not apply and the court-ordered obligations end, if the individual owes back child support, they are still legally obligated to pay this amount. Once again, not paying child support can lead to several negative consequences, including jail time.

From the idea that child support payments end when a child turns 18 to the idea that unemployment negates a child support order, there are several common myths and misconceptions concerning child support. If you have any additional questions, contact your family law attorney.