Refusing Child Support

Once in awhile, I write a post that I know I’m going to take some flames for.  I don’t write controversial stuff just for the sake of being controversial, but occasionally an issue comes along that I really believe in and I’m willing to stand up and speak my mind about, and this is one of those cases.

Some single parents refuse, or choose not to seek out, child support from their child’s biological parent.  Why?  The reasons I’ve heard include the following:

1.  They can raise their child on their income alone, and don’t want help from the other parent.  They would rather do it by themselves.

2.  They feel that the child is better off without the other parent in their life for any number of reasons, so they don’t want to accept child support because they don’t want the noncustodial parent to be allowed visitation.

3.  They don’t want to anger the noncustodial parent by seeking financial support– they want the relationship to stay civil and friendly for the child’s sake.

Although I can understand the reasons behind the decision, and recognize that really none of it is any of my business anyway (before everyone comes in here and screams that at me), I still personally take issue with it.

First of all, and this is my biggest issue: child support is not your money.  It’s your child’s.  The money is only paid to you because your child would probably rather spend it on candy or video games than daycare or vegetables.  Maybe you truly don’t need that money to give your child the things he or she needs.  But if that were me, I’d still take the money and put it in a savings account for college or something.  Because that money is not mine to refuse.

Also, it’s actually a myth that seeking child support means you are obligated to allow visitation.  Many single parents don’t realize that child support is actually an issue that is completely independent from custody and visitation– a parent who pays child support may be denied visitation, and conversely, a parent who is behind on paying child support cannot be denied visitation.  The judge makes the decisions on child support and visitation, and they are not related to each other at all.

And as for the last issue, if you read this blog regularly you know that I am a huge proponent of keeping things civil between coparents at the expense of pretty much anything else, because it’s what’s best for the child.  However, you have to stick up for your child and draw a line somewhere, and in my opinion, child support is a good place to do it.  It’s one thing to let it slide for the sake of civility if, say, the other parent consistently shows up 10 minutes late.  It’s entirely another to give them a pass on financial support that you could be using to give your child a better life.

Of course there must be special situations in which denying or not seeking support is the right thing to do, but in general, it’s not charity money– it’s a legal financial obligation, and to deny receiving it is to do your child a disservice.  In my humble opinion.  Now, go ahead and flame the bejeesus out of me in the comments.  I’ve got my flameproof suit on and I’m ready.

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  1. by E

    On September 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Well stated. I actually agree with you 100%

  2. by Shima

    On September 13, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is not the parents place to refuse money for their child. And in my case (and many others I’m sure), if my ex doesn’t pay child support I’m not allowed to withhold visitation. He can visit anytime (within reason of course) he wants whether he pays or not.

  3. by SingleMama

    On September 14, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I just wish the states would do more to uphold someone’s legal obligation to pay support! Right now, my son is owed just over $10,000, and no one seems to bat an eye!

  4. by Catherine

    On September 14, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Thanx for this post just last week I filed papers with family court for child support. Custody and visitation were done a few months ago. I thought that we would be able to come to an agreement on our in regards to money but after MANY late payments and emails back and forth I am done.
    I work FT go to school FT and I live paycheck to paycheck I am lucky in that my mom takes care of my 2 yr old BUT I still pay her. I have often thought about not asking him for anything mostly out of anger just to show him that NO I do not need your $$$ but at the same time my child deserves to have everything that he would have had had we stayed together.

  5. by Anthea

    On September 14, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Perhaps if the law in SA was different but right now I am so tired of fighting for the support that my child deserves. Because of this is it better for us that I no longer fight.

  6. by bella

    On September 15, 2011 at 2:47 am

    You have some good points.
    One thing that people overlook though is the fact that someone who is paying child support is more likely to seek visitation or custody. People like to get something for their money, and if they get to take something from their ex who is going after their money (like time with the child), all the better.
    These things may be decided on separately by the court, but they are not separate in reality. If I decided to go after my ex for support, you can bet he would be filing for visitation, even though up until this point he has never bothered to try to see his son.
    If my ex does not want to be a good father and does not want to pursue a relationship with his child on his own, I am not going to do anything that would risk bringing him into my son’s life. The only father any child needs is one who wants to be there on their own account, not for revenge and not because they feel obligated. No child would benefit from spending time with a father who would rather they never existed.
    That said, if my ex ever decided he wants to be part of our son’s life, the first thing I would do is file for support. The way I see it, he can either be not involved in any way, or he can be fully responsible as a parent and provide for his child.

  7. by mylovely38

    On September 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I refused going through the process of seeking child support not for selfish reasons,more so because its been 8 years and yet have received nothing. During those 8 years I have LOST income hiring lawyers ,missing time from work and becoming so stressed out trying to receive it it started affecting my ability to be a good parent. So for those of you that don’t agree suck it up and mind your business,sometimes it is not worth the headache..oh and by the way did I mention the money I LOST trying to receive it????????

  8. by Moms World

    On September 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Ok, so I never looked at it the way you said “It’s not your money to refuse”. I suppose you are correct there. I myself had a couple of instances where child support was either not asked for or reduced. I had a baby at 17 where I’m not sure now why I never recieved child support. I was not married to the father, and I guess the state’s laws back then didn’t automatically go after the father for financial support. Hopefully it does now. Flash forward 20 yrs later and unfortunately a divorce from the man who adopted my first child and is the father of my other two. He was abusive and I just wanted out, so I agreed to a reduced child support amount and none of the retirement we both paid for. I really regret these two things, but I don’t think I would do it any different if I had to do it all over again. Can’t live with regrets! http://www.momsvent.com

  9. by Julia

    On September 16, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks for all the comments on this! Bella, you make a good point that the noncustodial parent is more likely to seek visitation if they are paying. I hadn’t really thought about that. Mylovely38, I guess I’m not sure how someone could spend 8 years in court and never get any kind of support order at all, but if that’s the case then I’m very sorry for your struggle, that sounds horribly stressful. I’d probably have quit after that long, too.

  10. by Nick

    On October 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Hi, my name is Nick and I have my babies more then their mother. And when I get them I am up late doing homework. Due to the fact that I work from 9am till 8pm. But got to do what I got to do. Me an my kids pray for their mother and her boyfriend. No hard feelings what so ever. It gets very emotional at times I want to break down and cry but I need to be strong for all of us. I have four beautiful children just incase you would like to know. It’s not easy and I love and respect all single parents. Would not say anything bad about their mother for the most. I am human and mess up at times. But I ask my children to call me out if I mess up. But just want you all to know guys go through this as well. My heart goes out to all of you! And may god bless you an help you to be strong for them. But ultimately its about our children not us and as parents we have tough decisions to make. Well good luck to you all.

  11. by Martha H.

    On October 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I understand where you are coming from, however, I also understand not going after it. I was with my first husband for over 6 years. He had 2 children from 2 previous relationships, and then we had our son. He would not work unless it was under the table, spent time in jail over and over, and was not a responsible father, a big part of that being to avoid paying for his kids. I divorced him and the only reason I asked for child support was as leverage if he tried to hurt me or my son. He owes my son over $12,000. I have not gone after him for any of it and when it came time for my son to be adopted, I would have agreed to sign off on it, if he allowed the adoption. Luckily, he never even tried to contest it, he was in jail again for not paying his other child’s support, and had already made a new baby. He now has 3 more children. He does not financially support any of them, though he is with the mother of 2 of them. He does not work, and has not seen my son in over 9 years, and he hasn’t seen the oldest 2 in over 12 years. One of the older children’s mom still takes him to court sometimes with the state, but she rarely gets more than a couple hundred, if that. He also has a 6 year old with cancer, he is not financially supportive and rarely sees her. So in my case, it wasn’t worth it, to hurt my son in a manner that showed him over and over how little he mattered to his “sperm donor”.

  12. by Emily J

    On October 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Good points all, however I’d like to offer up another reason for refusing or not seeking child support, that wasn’t mentioned. I realize I am probably in a very small minority here, but I chose not to seek it because the XH and I have a very amicable divorce. We split custody as close to 50/50 as possible with there being an odd number of days per week. We live within 4 miles of each other, we make roughly the same amount of money, and all major decisions regarding the kids are made together. When an expense comes up such as cheer fees and uniforms, healthcare that is not covered by insurance, school supplies, and the like, we split it down the middle. It takes work to have a civil, if not friendly, relationship with my ex, and I realize that in many cases it is not safe, or even possible. However, I would urge the divorced moms and dads of the world to LOVE your kids MORE than you HATE your ex, and try for their sake to be civil to one another.

  13. by Jamie

    On October 2, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Child support & visitation are LEGALLY separate but in practical terms very often are intertwined. If you file for support, some non-custodians will file for visitation/custody for revenge or to lower the amount. On the other hand, if you do not file for support, they will not file for visitation because they don’t want the result to include a support case.

  14. by Monica

    On October 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I agree 100%! My parents divorced when I just started high school. The money my mom received was on MY behalf. It was supposed to be for food, housing, utilities, ect and NOT for vacations for her, ect. Also, I agree with Nick. Many men are left out of conversations like this, but there are many men out there that are single fathers. In my husband’s case, he may have fathered 2 kids prior to our marriage. The mother STILL refuses to do DNA tests simply to continue to have someway to hang on to him and there’s nothing he can do about it! HE filed in court for the tests and everyone we worked with praised him for doing the right thing, then added there’s nothing they can do for him since the system is set-up for mothers only. WOW is all we could say! This would’ve also guarenteed visitation since she won’t allow it since he married me.

    The money is for the child and if you don’t want it, save it for the child, but time can NEVER be replaced!

  15. by jen

    On October 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    There’s another reason to refuse child support: I chose to have my child while my on again off again boyfriend at the time did not want kids. Why should I force this person to have his wages garnished when he didn’t want kids and is not in my child’s life? Sure, maybe my child could use that money for college, but I’d rather stick to my principles. I actually really feel bad for the guys who have no say in what happens. And yes, I know why this is a controversial opinion.

  16. by Margie

    On October 26, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    The court systems are incredibly outdated – they can only enforce child support if both parents live in the same state. My son’s father is not a US citizen, so my lawyer told me not to even waste my time pursuing it, there was absolutely nothing they could do. Instead I focused my efforts on furthering my own career so that I could provide a decent life for my kid. Men who aren’t held accountable by the courts don’t generally hold themselves accountable, so girls – we have to take responsibility for choosing idiots to father our children. Won’t make that mistake again, will we?

  17. by Kris

    On October 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I see an incredibly incorrect amount of “advise” on here. I was a “Child Support Enforcement Officer” for a particular state for a while. You can open an account with such an office, which is state-run and located by county, for $25. That office should do most of the work for you, as long as you can provide contact and/or work info for the other parent. I have enforced child support many, many times without the other parent trying for custody. In fact, you’d have to have split custody for the support to be reduced, and even then it is only if you make nearly the same salaries. Child support absolutely can be enforced if the parents live in different states, although can be more difficult. If you need a lawyer and do not make much, you can get info from any of these office on pro-bono lawyers who work on a sliding scale and would love to help you (also check your local libraries for this information).

    Emily J- you have it figured out! Good for you, girl. I wish everyone the best. Please know your resources.

  18. by Jenny

    On November 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    My boyfriend and his exwife have a two yr old son..he is the only one who pays for everything and he lives with us. He has tried to get child support because his bio mom doesnt want him, buf they dont belive he lives with us. His mothers hasnt seen him in two months but has gone up to six without hearing a word. How has it come to that people dont think there are single(wel not that single he has me) fathers who cant get what their child deserves because the government doesnt believe it. Its completely sad. My two yr old calls me momm

  19. by Me

    On September 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    If the child is being taken care of and gets anything they could ever ask for…who cares about accepting a support payment. I am one of those people that refuses support. I can take care my kids on my own, they will always have more then they need. No I am not a millionaire or anything like that but as far as I am concerned my exhusband can shove his money…its all about him trying to absolve himself of responsibility by putting up a few dollars.. The less I have to deal with the other parent the better. He is more than welcome to see the children anytime he wants…but he is to keep away from me…that includes his wallet. Everything the kids have is paid for and they are well taken care by me, so there is nothing they are benefiting from in forms of his so called payment or helping with expenses. The only pocket book that is dipleated is mine and frankly not getting half is much better than dealing with the master manipulator. So I may not have a glorious retirement when I am done paying for it all…but I will never have to deal with him and I do take self satisfaction in raising my children on my own.