As a parent, the last thing you want to do is lose contact with your child. If you’re in a situation where you can’t pay child support, you may worry that the other parent will be able to withhold custody or have the custody orders changed to take your child away from you.
Fortunately, that is not usually the case. Custody and support aren’t generally linked, so the other parent should not be withholding custody if you cannot pay support.
Child support is calculated using guidelines from the state. Custody is decided based on what’s in your child’s best interests. Failing to pay money to the other parent doesn’t mean you can’t be a good parent yourself, because the courts look at more than just your ability to pay child support when considering your parental fitness.
What should you do if you’re falling behind on child support?
If you are falling behind and can’t make a full payment, it’s in your best interests to pay whatever you can. If you can try to support your child in other ways, like taking them an extra day a week so the other parent can work, then that may also reflect positively on you.
Realistically, if you find yourself in a situation where you cannot afford to pay support, you do need to seek out a modification. A support modification can help you if you have lost your job or had a change in your circumstances.
If a modification is granted, the court may reduce what you owe each month, so you can pay in full more easily. Until you get this modification granted, you should do your best to pay the current payment on time and in full. If you cannot, pay as much as you can, and be ready to make payments to cover arrears even if you get a modification granted to you.
If you have questions about your rights as a parent, it’s helpful to talk to someone familiar with your case to learn more about the law and how it applies. Your right to custody should not be lost just because you’re having a more difficult time paying support than before.