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How can you afford child support?

Most people know that child support payments are designed to be a percentage of income. If a parent makes $7,500 or less a month, then it's normal to use a percentage to calculate how much the parent will pay. For instance, one child should be given around 20 percent of net resources each month. Two would get 25 percent.

Some parents find this very hard to work with, especially when they earn lower amounts of money. For example, a parent with $2,000 a month needs to pay rent, to buy food and to purchase other necessities. If they have to give $500 in child support for two children, then they have only $1,500 to live on, which can be extremely difficult.

What should you do if you can't afford child support?

Whatever you do, you shouldn't stop paying. Keep up on the payments as much as you can. You can seek a modification of child support in court. You and your attorney can put together evidence that you're struggling to live on the income you have, which can help the judge manually alter how much you can pay in child support each month.

If you're struggling to pay what you owe, pay as much as you can each month. Unpaid child support has a 6 percent interest rate, which adds up quickly. Do all you can to make your payments in full unless it's impossible to do so.

If you have had a change in your circumstances, like the loss of a job or the birth of another child, then you might be able to have your child support obligations modified. A judge uses the child support calculator as a guideline, but they can opt to order a different amount. For people who don't earn much above the poverty line or who struggle because of high rental costs or expenses, a judge may lower their support responsibility to make sure they can still afford to live.

No one wants to see a good parent struggling to make ends meet. No one wants to put a parent in jail when they can't afford to pay support. Make sure a judge knows your position and has evidence that you're paying all you can to help with your child's financial needs. It's your responsibility to care for your child, but you also need to be able to survive yourself. The court can review your case and take steps to help.

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