Voluntary Termination of Child Support Obligation
A question that arises occasionally in my practice is whether a non-custodial parent can terminate his or her child support obligation by ‘signing away’ his or her ‘rights’ to the child. How and why a parent gets to the point of seriously considering abandoning their own child is an issue for another day, but the answer to the question is (like almost anything else in family law) yes….and no.
1. Child support is a legal obligation each parent owes directly to a child, and cannot normally be bargained away by the parents.
2. Visitation and custody rights are separate from the duty of a parent to support their children, so surrendering custody or waiving visitation will never directly affect the payment of child support.
That being said, there are two ways for a non-custodial parent to voluntarily terminate his or child support payments:
1. Under certain limited circumstances, a judge may approve of a waiver of child support payments for ‘good cause’ and if the custodial parent consents to the waiver.
What constitutes ‘good cause’ is a question only the judge assigned to the case can answer, and in my experience each judge has his or her own practices and criteria for deciding whether to approve a waiver request.
2. Adoption of the child by a step parent or other appropriate person. If the parent paying child support consents to the adoption of the child by another adult (usually the new step-parent of the child), the completion of the adoption automatically terminates the child support obligation of the former parent.