Child support payments are critical contributions to a child’s well-being. However, too many parents look at this money as a parenting punishment or reward. These and other misconceptions about child support can result in some costly mistakes and unfortunate consequences.
Below, we examine some of the more common mistakes parents make when it comes to paying or receiving child support.
Mistake #1: Not paying it
Child support orders come from the courts. If you do not comply with this or any other court order, there will be consequences. As noted by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), parents who do not pay child support can face actions including:
- Increases in withheld income
- Interception of tax refunds
- License denial
- Jail time
Mistake #2: Not asking for it
In cases of divorce or separation, parents will typically work out child support payments during the legal process. However, if parents were not married, one must request child support. This may involve finding the other parent, confirming paternity, and requesting support from the courts. Assuming it will come or informally demanding it from another person likely will not be effective means of securing appropriate payment.
Mistake #3: Paying more (or getting less) than you should
Whether you are addressing a new child support order or revisiting an existing order, it is crucial to confirm that the amount is fair. Payments depend on many factors, including income, a child’s needs, and parenting time allowances. The amount you pay or receive should be in line with state guidelines and approved by the courts.
Mistake #4: Sticking with an informal agreement
Parents may come to an agreement on their own regarding child support. However, doing so can make it all but impossible to enforce the agreements or keep an accurate record of a parent’s contributions. To avoid this, it can be best to put child support agreements in writing and have a court approve them.
These mistakes may not seem significant, but they have financial repercussions as well as an impact on a child’s life. As such, parents must take child support matters seriously and consult with an attorney if there are any questions or concerns regarding payments.