Whether you are the person giving or receiving child support payments, you have undoubtedly heard a plethora of advice and information from friends, family, and loved ones. While many of these people are well meaning and just want to help, chances are that you have heard at least one or two common myths about child support payments that simply aren’t true.

Do any of these myths sound familiar?

Myth #1: Child support money must be used directly on the children themselves.

Many parents may become angry when they find out that child support was spent on car payments, rent, or even vacations – instead of clothing and food for the child. However, child support payments are meant to be spent for the general wellbeing of the child – not just objects the child needs directly. As long as the child’s needs are not suffering, there are many valid uses for child support money.

Myth #2: There’s nothing I can do to change my child support payments.

If anything in your life significantly changes your ability to pay child support, you can petition the court to have the amount changed. If you can’t find work, if you suffer an injury or health problem, or if you become disabled, make sure both your ex and the court is aware of the change in your life. On the other hand, if you begin making more money and can offer more support, you could be asked to contribute more child support to your family. Learn more about the situations in which you can change your child support payments.

Myth #3: I have to pay child support until my child turns 18.

While this may generally be the case, there are several reasons that you could stop paying child support before the age of 18, as well as several reasons that you would need to make more payments after the age of 18. For example, a disabled child who is not able to care for himself or herself may need extended care, while an emancipated teen may no longer need support prior to the age of 18.

Myth #4: It’s okay to make a child support agreement outside of court.

While you can make an agreement with your ex about child support payments, it is imperative to realize that these agreements hold no water in court if you need to fight for your rights or your money down the line. Making child support payment agreements in court is the best option for you and your children.

Myth #5: Only men pay child support – and deadbeat moms don’t exist.

Both men and women can be ordered to pay child support – who pays depends on who has the physical custody of the children and who is financially responsible for the children. It follows that both men and women can fail to pay the child support that they legally owe to their ex.

Myth #6: New children can affect my child support payments.

If you have more children with a new partner, or if your spouse has more children with a new partner, these issues will often not result in different child support payments. Why? Just because more children are being taken care of doesn’t mean that the children you are supporting need less financial help or have fewer needs.

Myth #7: I can avoid higher child support payments by quitting my job or taking a lower-paying job.

Child support payments are calculated based on your earning ability – if you don’t work on purpose, that is not an excuse to stop supporting your children. On the other hand, if you can’t find work or are laid off, you should tell your ex and the court as soon as possible so that together you can find a solution to your inability to pay child support.

A knowledgeable and experienced Seattle child custody attorney can help you dispel these common child support myths – and make certain that your rights and the rights of your children are protected. Call Molly B. Kenny today to schedule a private consultation: 425-460-0550.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington