What Should I Do if I Can’t Afford Child Support?

child support payment money in envelope

Child support payments are important to ensure that both parents are contributing financially to the development and well-being of the child. These payments can cover food, clothes, education, extracurricular activities, and more. If you have been paying child support but can’t afford the agreed-upon amount anymore, there are actions you can take to rectify the situation. Contact a Memphis, Tennessee child support lawyer for more information and skilled legal advice.

Why Would Someone Be Unable to Afford Child Support?

Child support is calculated with the intention of providing a fair and reasonable payment plan for everyone involved. The amount should be enough to contribute to the child’s expenses and development but not such an amount that it puts an unfair burden on the paying parent.

Child support is typically calculated by a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. The percentage is determined by a court after examining a plethora of factors such as how many children the parents share, the income of each parent, how much time each parent spends with the child, etc.

During child custody hearings the payment plan will be decided and it should be fair and affordable. However, over time circumstances can change. The following are some reasons that a paying parent may no longer be able to afford to keep up with their monthly child support payments.

  • They were fired or laid off
  • They unwillingly were demoted or took a pay cut
  • They developed a medical condition or illness
  • They have new financial responsibilities

If I Can’t Pay, What Should I Do?

The first and most important thing to note is that you should never stop making child support payments on your own. There can be serious consequences. Instead, be honest about your situation and new circumstances. Contact your child’s other parent and the court. You can petition for a modification to your custody and support agreement.

Prepare documentation that proves your new financial situation and how you can no longer afford the previously agreed-upon amount. If you approach the situation respectfully and emphasize that you want to continue supporting your child, a court may be more lenient when offering an alteration of the contract.

The new agreement may allow you to make lower payments or decrease the frequency of your payments. Additionally, you may be able to negotiate for more time spent with the child to offset the lower payments.

What Are the Consequences of Not Paying Child Support in TN?

You can face harsh penalties for failing to pay child support. Missing one or two payments will result in some fines added to your amount owed. If you continue to neglect your child support payments for a longer period, the consequences will become more severe.

The court may decide to withhold income from the paying parent’s paycheck, suspend their driver’s license or passport, issue a warrant, intercept a tax refund, report them to a credit agency, and even seize monetary assets from bank accounts, stocks, or bonds. Individuals can even face jail time.

It is not worth it to face these charges if you cannot afford child support any longer. Reach out to a skilled attorney and request a modification to avoid the above repercussions.