Can a Parent Relinquish Child Support?

By Beverly Bird

One of the greatest difficulties with understanding the divorce process is that the rules can change from state to state. What's true in one jurisdiction isn't always the rule in the next. However, child support laws are pretty universal; you can't get divorced without the court addressing it -- and most states will not allow you to waive it.

A Child's Right

Minor children are legally entitled to support from both parents, so child support technically belongs to your child, not to you. States take the view that you cannot waive something that was never yours. In some unique circumstances, such as if both you and your spouse earn extraordinarily high incomes, the court may allow you to avoid regular support payments, but not the support itself. For example, your spouse might set up a trust fund for your child that will provide for her in lieu of sending you a check every week.

Options to Using Payments

If you don't want or need your spouse's child support payments, you can set the money aside in an account for your child's use later; she might appreciate a nice windfall to sustain her when she graduates from college and is looking for a job. You might also decline to have your support payments go through your state's child support services, so there's no official record of whether your spouse is paying you. If he doesn't make regular payments, you don't have to legally pursue him for arrears. If you're collecting public assistance, however, it's usually mandatory that child support go through your state's collection services.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
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Child Support Laws for Non-Minors in Texas

If you're facing divorce and you have grown children, the court probably will not order you to pay child support on their behalf. This is true in Texas and elsewhere, although exceptions do exist. Texas' exceptions are pretty limited, however. In all likelihood, your decree will only include a support obligation for your children who have not yet turned 18 or graduated from high school.

Can You Request the Amount You Want for Child Support?

If you're facing divorce, you probably feel like you're also facing a lot of unknowns in your financial future. Child support calculations are complex and can differ from state to state, so if you have children, this issue might seem like a big question mark when you're looking ahead. If you or your spouse want the court to order an amount that's different from that which your state's calculations arrive at, you can make this request. In some jurisdictions and under some circumstances, the court might grant it.

Can I Travel to Europe if I Owe Child Support?

Adults are usually free to travel wherever they like – unless they want to leave the country and they happen to be behind in their child support obligations. You need a passport to travel abroad, and if your child support arrears reach a certain point, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement will step in to make sure Passport Services denies your application. Your only option is pay what you owe, and to do so well in advance of your trip because the process of lifting the denial can take some time.

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