Child support is a parental obligation that’s inescapable, and yes, this applies to fathers who were never married to their child’s mother.
Put simply, if you fathered a child, you’re legally obligated to pay child support and share custody, regardless of your relationship with the mother. This is considering that you have established your paternity, either by birth certificate or test.
If you’re involved in more serious cases, such as domestic violence, it will require a special approach. Regardless, a renowned lawyer in Colorado Springs notes that the court could order the child support amount you need to pay or arranged between you and the mother.
What happens if I refuse to pay child support?
Refusing to or stopping child support payments could result in penalties such as fines or, worse, jail time. Once you stop sending payments, your child support payments would accumulate, unless you petition the court to modify the support amount because you have a significant change in your circumstances.
Of course, this would only apply if the court approves your request. For example, you would still need to continue paying support even if you got laid off from work until the court modifies the child support order.
If you don’t have a child support order from the court but have an existing agreement with the mother of your child and you decide to stop sending payments, the mother could petition the court for a formal child support order.
Although the court might take into account your change in circumstances when deliberating on your petition, it would most likely modify the support order again in the future once you’re capable of delivering payment.
The court could likewise order you to pay all your accumulated child support payments if it finds that you were required and able to make payments but failed to do so.
Would I need to pay child support forever?
The simple answer is no. In general, you could stop paying child support once your child turns 18 years old. However, you might have to continue paying support even after your child turns 18, as ordered by the court, due to certain circumstances.
For example, if your child has special needs or a disability. You could also stop paying child support if a stepparent legally adopts them, for instance. You would still need to terminate your parental rights, though.
Child support issues are complex and could have extremely significant consequences not only for you but your child as well. Work with an experienced family lawyer to get valuable insight into your case.