Choosing to establish a child support order is a decision that can last a very long time for a person. It is a decision that can greatly impact your entire life, especially your finances. The Office of Child Support (OCS), which is part of the Vermont Department for Children and Families, can help you with making the decision.

There may be various factors that need to be considered in order to determine what type of child support arrangement will be most beneficial for all the parties involved. They can also provide assistance in cases where there are difficulties in collecting the child support.

Vermont Family Law: Who Needs to Pay Child Support?

The parent who is lacking physical custody must pay child support to the parent who has physical custody. In situations where there is shared custody, the amount might be lower than if only one parent has custody, but it will not go away completely.

The amount of child support paid can depend on several different factors. These will be considered thoroughly by the court in order to arrive at a child support schedule and amount that is ideal. Most commonly, these factors can be summarized as “child’s best interests.” These factors may include:

  • The income level of the parents, as well as their spouses and other supporting parties;
  • Whether the child has any special needs that must be considered;
  • Differences in geographic location (proximity to school, travel time, etc.);
  • History of previous payment amounts, as well as any failures to pay;
  • Any new major life changes, such as a new job with higher pay, or a loss of employment; and/or
  • Major expenses incurred without warning, such as those connected with emergency situations

How Can I Apply for Child Support in Vermont?

Child support can be applied for through OCS or by filing for it in court if you already have an ongoing divorce or custody case. Some of the information you might need to provide to the court or to OCS are paternity documents, divorce records, social security numbers, a description of the other parent, and income information.

If you do not know where the other parent lives or where they can be reached, then be prepared for a longer, more drawn out process. This is why it’s important to have a photo or a written out description of the other parent. This will include any tattoos, scars, hair color, eye color, and any other known aliases.

Can I Decline to Pay Child Support in Vermont?

If child support is not being paid, the court can find you in contempt of the child support order and have you arrested or fined. This sometimes include being held in jail until you find some way to comply with the order or until you’ve spent the required amount of time.

OCS can also have part of your income withheld to pay the child support by garnishing your wages. Liens can also be placed on your property to obtain the owed money. Your licenses can even be taken away such as driving licenses, professional licenses, hunting and fishing licenses.

In particular, wage garnishment is a common remedy in order to address unpaid child support or difficulties in obtaining the payments. In some cases, wage garnishments and wage deductions may be issued automatically in connection with a new child support order. If the individual owes unpaid back amounts for child support, the judge may simply order a wage garnishment in the new order to help ensure that the debt will be collected.

In cases where the parent is ordered to pay child support but is unemployed, they may still be liable for those owed payments that they missed while they didn’t have a job. If they then obtain employment later on, the judge may issue a new order to garnish wages for those missing payments.

Will Not Paying Child Support Affect My Visitation Rights in Vermont?

Visitation is generally not connected to child support. The custodial parent does not have the power to deny you visits with your child based on whether or not you have been paying child support. The court can help you enforce your visitation if the other parent will not work with you.

However, if you have a history of not paying child support and have been held in contempt, as well as owing a lot back, it is possible for the court to modify your visitation rights. Not necessarily to punish the other parent, but to protect the child from being in a situation that is not in their best interest.

If the other parent is not capable of supporting the child in the main way they are required, then would the other parent be a good influence? Are they capable of taking care of the child over the weekend? If you first had the right to take your child for holidays or for extended vacations, but have fallen behind on child support, then it is possible for the court to modify the order and shorten/limit your visitation rights.

Vermont Family Law: Is It Possible to Stop Paying Child Support?

If you want to stop paying child support, you have to do it legally through the court. If you take matters into your own hands and just decide to stop paying on your own, you can face serious issues later on. You no longer have to pay child support when the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever one happens later.

Either parent can ask for a paternity test in court, and a parent is no longer obligated to pay child support if they are not the biological father of the child. You can also reach an agreement with the other parent to modify your child support payments, but you have to present the agreement to the court, and the court must approve of it.

Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer for Issues with Child Support?

You should contact a Vermont child support lawyer if you are thinking about pursuing child support or need to end child support. Child support matters can be complex and can involve many different legal requirements. However, a family law attorney in your area can help you file your case or modify your agreement.