What Does Adoption Mean for Child Support Obligations?

When it comes to child support, one or both parents can be ordered to make payments intended to support a child’s living expenses. These expenses include basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing.

Whether a divorce is a factor or not, in a situation where two parents are not living together, it’s common for a child support order to exist. Under most circumstances, the parent with more or full physical custody – the custodial parent – receives child support payments from the non-custodial parent. The reasoning here is that because the child lives with the custodial parent most or all of the time, this parent is already spending money supporting their child.

So, what happens to child support obligations if an adoption takes place? Are birth parents still obligated to financially support their children even if they have no legal rights over their children?

The short answer to the latter question is “no,” but let’s explain why in a little more detail below.

Terminating Parental Rights for Adoption

Adoption is the legal process of transferring the legal rights of birth parents to the adoptive parents. In most adoption scenarios, one or both birth parents voluntarily terminate their parental rights. This is a necessary part of the process of transferring those rights to the adoptive parents. Once one or both birth parents’ rights are terminated, they lose custody, visitation, and responsibilities that include paying child support.

For example, if a mother with children after a divorce remarries and her new spouse wants to adopt her children as their stepchildren, her former spouse must first volunteer to have his parental rights terminated. If the former spouse agrees to the adoption, he will lose custody and visitation rights to his children, but will no longer have to pay child support.

While terminating one’s own parental rights can relinquish them of child support obligations, the courts don’t take this matter lightly. Under no circumstances can one voluntarily terminate their parental rights for the purpose of avoiding child support. It can only be done in an adoption scenario where there is someone willing to assume the rights and responsibilities of the individual giving up their parental rights.

Adoptive Parents & Child Support

Once someone becomes an adoptive parent, they assume all of the legal rights and responsibilities of being a child’s parent. That means that even adoptive parents can be ordered to pay child support if their marriage ends in divorce.

Unpaid Child Support Is Always Owed

Affording child support can sometimes be difficult, especially when one is earning less money at work than when support was originally ordered. If a judge declines a request to modify child support, a lot of it can go unpaid and accumulate as debt. Failing to pay child support is also a crime, so there are worse consequences at stake, too.

Parents who gave up their parental rights for adoption aren’t responsible for future child support payments, but they still owe any they didn’t pay before the adoption concluded. Unpaid child support is a debt that never goes away – not even declaring bankruptcy can rid someone of this debt. The only way to eliminate child support debt is to pay it off.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If you need any legal assistance with child support matters, reach out to our experienced attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP for help. We have many years of experience helping clients with all sorts of family law issues and we understand that child support is one of the most critical matters one can face.

Whether you are trying to ensure your obligation to pay support ends when your child is adopted or you need assistance enforcing the payment of child support, our lawyers can offer the legal support and service you require.

For more information about how Claery & Hammond, LLP can help, please contact us online today.