Misconceptions About Child Support After Divorce

Child Support Lawyer

After two people have gotten a divorce, they will then have to figure out an agreement about child support. If they cannot reach an agreement, then they must attend a hearing and advocate for their side in front of a family court judge. That judge will then determine which spouse should pay child support, in what amounts, frequency, and duration of time.

There are many misconceptions that parents may have about child support payments. Here are some of the most common examples:

Misconception #1: Child Support Is Always a Once a Month Payment
Child support may be paid through a variety of ways, including on a regular scheduled basis (often once a month), or in one large lump sum. Many people don’t realize that when it comes to child support, there actually needs to be continued communication between both parents about funds and their child’s needs. The child support arrangement may include fixed monthly payments, and negotiated additional expenses as needed.

Lastly, if either parent has a drastic change in circumstances, they may be eligible to file for child support modification. There are many reasons child support payments may change, pause, or halt entirely, as a child support lawyer in Rockville, MD like the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright can explain:

Some of the reasons that child support payments may change, pause, or halt entirely include:

  • When one parent has recently endured a significant decrease in income (due to layoff or job change)
  • When one parent has experienced a substantial increase in their earnings
  • The child has new expenses, such as medical bills, education-related costs, fees for sports camps or other hobbies, dental care, etc. 
  • When the paying parent has become responsible for supporting new children (they may be eligible for a child support payment decrease)
  • The cost of living for either parent has changed 

Misconception #2: Child Support Must Be Spent Directly On The Child
Child support funds must be spent on the child’s needs, such as clothing, housing, food, education, medical care, and so on. However, child support payments can also go towards things like utility bills, childcare, and other home costs since the child indirectly benefits from these.

The recipient spouse cannot spend the money on anything they want, especially things that don’t benefit the child’s quality of life at all. A spouse that uses child support for extravagant and personal reasons runs the risk of repercussions by the court if the paying spouse finds out. 

Misconception #3: It’s Easy To Get Away With Not Paying Child Support
There are several serious ramifications for not paying child support. The recipient spouse can notify the court about late, insufficient, or non-existent payments. Based on the factors of the situation, the court may then decide to inflict the following consequences on the spouse who has failed to pay:

  • Finding them in contempt of court
  • Issuing a warrant for arrest (civil or criminal)
  • Expensive fines
  • Serving jail time
  • Denying tax return funds
  • Excluding from receiving government benefits
  • Placing a lien on property to cover an overdue child support payment
  • Garnishing wages
  • Passport revocation