Connecticut Family
Law Attorneys

Can a parent avoid paying child support?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Child Support |

Child support is a legal obligation imposed on parents to ensure that they provide financial support in service of their children’s upbringing. Once a child support order is handed down by a state court, those who are obligated to make payments accordingly are required to respect the terms of the order in question or risk severe consequences. 

With that said, circumstances change, and there may be valid reasons for a parent to seek modification or, in rare cases, avoid paying child support altogether. It’s important to navigate these situations carefully, however, as simply failing to pay one’s obligations without taking the proper steps could result in legal trouble. 

Support may be modified

Child support orders are not set in stone and can potentially be modified if either parent experiences a significant change in circumstances. The courts recognize that life is unpredictable, and financial situations can fluctuate due to various reasons, including the following:

  • A significant change in income: If the parent paying child support experiences a significant decrease in income due to job loss, illness, disability or other substantial reasons, they may petition the court for a reduction in child support payments. Conversely, if the parent who receives income experiences a decrease in their income, or the paying parent’s income increases significantly, an increase in child support may be justifiably requested.
  • A change in custody arrangements: If there’s a change in a child’s custody arrangement — for example, if the child starts spending significantly more time with one parent — this can potentially be grounds for modifying child support. 
  • A change related to a child’s needs: If there’s a significant change in a child’s needs, such as medical treatment, educational expenses or other unforeseen costs, this might necessitate a modification of child support to better ensure that the child’s needs are adequately met.

While there are no guarantees that the court will approve a modification request, if circumstances support the need for one, it’s likely worth the effort of trying to secure a formal adjustment. 

Avoiding payment is illegal

It’s important to emphasize that actively avoiding child support payments without the court’s permission is illegal and can result in serious consequences, including wage garnishment, loss of driver’s and professional licenses and even imprisonment. However, there are rare instances where child support obligations may be legally avoided or terminated, including the legal adoption of a child by someone else and the emancipation of a minor. 

If a child’s support payment situation warrants a change, it’s important to pursue that change in line with the law. It’s not often easy to seek an adjustment, but there are certain times when doing so is unquestionably appropriate.