In Alabama, many parents simply cannot afford to pay the full amount of child support. This has nothing to do with the perception of “deadbeat parents” and has everything to do with the fact that child support obligations are often set high. In many cases, they are more than a parent can afford while still keeping a roof over their own head.

A parent has every reason to get some relief if they cannot afford what the court has ordered them to pay. The system can penalize them for not paying in full every month and can even put them in jail. However, parents should be wary of trying to lower the amount that they pay informally without the involvement of the court.

The best thing for a parent to do is to contact the state’s Office of Child Support Enforcement to try to obtain a modification of their child support order. In most cases, the parent will need to show a reason why it should be reduced other than the fact that it is just too high. Generally, the reasons for a change in child support are unemployment, medical costs, drastically reduced income and changed circumstances. This should become part of a court order so that it is binding on both parents. Otherwise, one parent could be subject to arrears in the future.

Parents who believe that they have reasons to lower their child support payment may contact a child support attorney to begin exploring the process of filing for a modification. Child support arrears can have long-lasting impacts on a parent’s life even after the children are grown because the money is still owed. Thus, it is vitally important to avoid a situation where a parent goes into debt and faces legal ramifications because they have fallen behind on child support payments.