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Can parents waive the right to child support?

This is an issue that we get asked about frequently. In some cases, a parent — usually the mother — decides that she does not want to force the other parent — usually the father — to pay child support.

Sometimes mothers believe that letting the father off of the hook for child support will mean that the father will agree to the custody terms that she wants. In other words, in order to get custody of the children, the mother sometimes agrees to not make the father pay child support.

However, this is not legal under the law. In the state of Alabama, child custody is ordered on behalf of the child, and neither parent can decide that the child should not receive that support. Child support is calculated using a formula that takes into account the income of both parents, the cost of child care, the cost of insurance and the expense the state of Alabama deems necessary to raise a child.

There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount this formula comes up with is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. In order to deviate from the amount determined by the calculator the parent must be explained in detail to the court. The Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration detail the types of deviation that may be accepted.

Our experience has showed us that the court typically rejects the reasons parents supply for not sticking to the child support guidelines, which means that parents are usually not allowed to waive child support under any circumstances.

If you are worried that the only way you will be able to get the custody outcome you want is by waiving child support, you should talk to an experienced attorney in your area for guidance. It may be possible to get the custody outcome you want along with the support your children are entitled to.