Some fathers drop out of their children’s lives and feel they shouldn’t have to pay child support. Others want to pay but have no income, either because of difficult economic circumstances or because they are incarcerated.
Generally, fathers are expected to financially support their children. This duty applies regardless of whether you want to see your children. Washington doesn’t want children on welfare, and they will take many steps to ensure fathers pay their fair share. Nonetheless, there are ways to temporarily or permanently reduce your child support. We highlight the most significant below.
Refuse to Acknowledge Paternity
Mothers automatically have parental rights by virtue of giving birth. A father’s paternity must be established in Washington. If you were married to the mother at birth, you are presumed to be the father.
But what if you weren’t married? In that situation, you need to acknowledge paternity or a court needs to establish paternity. You can always refuse to acknowledge you are the father. Realize that this doesn’t stop the mother or the state from trying to establish paternity by asking a judge to order a DNA test. Still, maybe the mother has no idea who the father is or refuses to tell the state. If your paternity is never established, you never have to pay.
Request a Temporary Reduction for Incarceration
Certain incarcerated parents might be eligible for an abatement of their child support. This abatement will reduce your child support to $10 a month in most cases. You are eligible if you were sentenced to confinement for at least six months, including:
- Home detention
- Electronic monitoring
- Work release
- Work crew
- Work ethic camp
- Other type of confinement
However, once you are released from confinement, the amount you owe will increase again. This is only a temporary solution, but it can provide breathing room to a parent who cannot earn any money.
Voluntarily Give Up Parental Rights
If another person or family wants to adopt your child, you can voluntarily give up your parental rights. A common situation is stepparent adoption. Your ex might have started a new relationship. This new partner can adopt your child if you voluntarily give up your rights. At that point, you won’t owe child support anymore.
What about voluntarily giving up your rights outside the adoption context? Actually, it is much harder to accomplish—again, because the state is worried about children ending up on public assistance. The state would much rather take money out of your paycheck each week to support your children.
Petition for a Modification of Child Support
You might modify your child support obligation because of changed circumstances. For example, you could be disabled or have lost your job. You can request a modification with the Division of Child Support or with the court that issued a child support order, depending on the circumstances. An attorney can help make an argument that your support order should be reduced.
Call Our Family Law Attorney Today
Until a judge modifies your order, any unpaid child support continues to accrue. Get the legal help you need by contacting Alliance Law Group today.