Child Support: Exceptions to How Much a Parent Has to Pay

child support

Child support is a legal obligation for parents to financially support their children. It is usually the responsibility of the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. But, like all legal obligations, there are exceptions to how much a parent has to pay in child support.

Undue Hardship 

In some cases, a court may reduce a parent’s child support obligation if paying the full amount would cause undue hardship for the parent. This can include situations where the parent is unemployed, disabled, or experiencing severe financial hardship.

Independent Children

Child support is usually necessary until the child reaches the age of 19, which is when they can be expected to provide for themselves. However, there are exceptions if the child is still dependent after this age due to special circumstances such as full-time education or a disability. In these cases, the parent may not be obligated to provide support.

Suppose a parent paying child support can demonstrate that a minor is living independently and has chosen to no longer live under the control of their parents. In that case, the minor may not be eligible for financial assistance from their parent.

When Are Children Considered Independent

Children are typically considered independent when they are at least 18 years of age and self-supporting. This means they are no longer financially dependent on their parents. 

A child may also be considered independent if they are legally emancipated and/or are living independently away from their parents. If a child is still enrolled in school and living with their parents, they may not be considered independent.

What If the Other Parent Doesn’t Live in the Same Province or Country

If the other parent does not live in the same province or country, the parent paying child support may be able to request a change in the amount of child support they are required to pay. 

The court may consider factors such as the cost of living in the other parent’s jurisdiction and the amount of income the paying parent has available. The court may also consider the child’s best interests when determining the amount of child support to be paid.

The Consequences for Not Paying Child Support

If a parent fails to pay child support, they may face serious consequences. Depending on the jurisdiction, the parent may be subject to wage garnishment, liens against their property, or even jail time. 

In addition, the parent may also be required to pay interest on any unpaid child support payments. Additionally, the parent’s credit score may be affected, and they may be denied certain privileges, such as passports or travel visas. 

The court may also order the parent to attend parenting classes or take other measures to ensure they meet their financial obligations to their children.


It is not possible to definitively answer the question of whether there are exceptions to how much a parent has to pay in child support. Every state has different laws and regulations on how much child support a parent must pay, which can vary significantly. 

Many factors can influence the amount of child support a parent is obligated to pay, such as the parent’s income and the number of children involved. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can advise on the specific child support laws in the state where the parent and child reside.

Dreyer and Associates is a family lawyer committed to preserving the best interests of families across the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. Contact us today. 





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