Are You Required to Pay Child Support If You Have No Income?

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Child support is often a touchy subject between parents. Splitting a family is never an easy circumstance, and when you involve questions of who is paying for the other parent to be able to have custody, it gets even more sensitive. But there are general rules that courts follow that must be abided by regardless of the conflict between the adults to ensure the child’s best interests are the priority.

This issue becomes even touchier when the parent who is supposed to pay child support has no income. No matter which side of the table you are on, you need to understand that the policies of child support are put in place for a reason. However, the question remains: Are you required to pay child support if you have no income?

The Short Answer to the Child Support Question

The formula that is used to determine the amount of child support that must be paid includes more than just the parents’ incomes. Each parent’s salary, commissions, and bonuses are part of the equation, but so are the earned Social Security benefits, assets, and other factors.

If you are unemployed and required to pay child support, the court may look at your prior work history and your ability to work. Temporary time periods in between jobs are not counted as “out of work.” Instead, your past income is used to determine how much you may be able to earn again.

The law gets strict on failure to pay child support, mostly due to those who have previously chosen to be unemployed rather than have to pay their obligation. When this happens, the court orders child support anyway based on “imputed,” or potential, income. The child’s best interest comes before that of the parent.

Unfortunately, those child support dodgers often ruin things for those who truly struggle to make their payments. When you can’t afford your required obligation, it can be tempting to skip on a few, make them late, or make an informal arrangement with the other parent. None of these courses of action are sound, though, since they all cause you to accrue arrears on your record.

If you are supposed to be receiving child support and are not because the other parent has no income, you should not try to make informal arrangements, either, even if you are just trying to help.

Turn to Those Who Know the Law

Instead, talk to an attorney about your child support options and find out what you should be paying or receiving versus what you are. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to talk to you about the laws regarding child support and what the consequences would be should these obligations not be met.

The answer to your problems might be as simple as a court-ordered payment modification or visitation adjustment. Talk to your attorney and get their legal advice before you make your next move regarding your child support situation. Let those who know the law guide you in making your decisions.

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