In this article...

Watch Our Video
Kevin O'Flaherty

There is a direct correlation between parental rights and child support. When you become a parent, you’re not only responsible for your child’s emotional and physical wellbeing but also for their financial support. Just because you are not permitted to have parenting time, does not necessarily mean that you can stop paying child support. One instance where child support may end is the termination of parental rights. The termination of parental rights is a legal process that results in the permanent severance of the legal relationship between a parent and their child.

How Does the Award of Parenting Time Impact Child Support?

The most important concept to understand with respect to this question is that child support obligations are not tied to parenting time and responsibility or the right of the obligor to spend time with the child.  According to Illinois law, both parents have an obligation to financially support their children, even in the absence of parenting rights.  

It should be noted that in shared parenting situations, spending more time with the child can reduce the amount of child support.   

Does a Parent Who is Not Awarded Parenting Time in a Divorce Have to Pay Child Support?

When parents are married and get a divorce, the law presumes that the husband is the father.  A child support order will be entered as part of the divorce case.  Parenting time and responsibility will also be adjudicated as part of that case.  However, even in cases where one parent is not permitted to have parenting time, child support will still always be required if the child is a minor.  

When is an Unwed Father Required to Pay Child Support?

When parents are unwed, child support will not be required until paternity has been established.  Once paternity has been established, the father will be financially obligated to support the child through child support, but will not automatically have any rights to access the child.  The father’s parenting time and responsibility can be determined either as part of a paternity proceeding, or in a separate hearing (this often occurs when the father voluntarily acknowledges paternity).  As in a divorce, if the father is never awarded parenting time or responsibility, he will still be obligated to pay child support.

Can I Stop Paying Child Support if the Other Parent Violates the Parenting Agreement?

If the residential parent violates the Parenting Agreement or parenting order by not allowing the other parent to engage in parenting time as required by the order, the other parent may not simply stop paying child support.  The parent whose rights have been violated has recourse through the court system to enforce the parenting agreement.  However, he or she must continue to pay child support throughout the process.  

Do I Have to Pay Child Support if My Parental Rights Have Been Terminated?

One situation in which a biological parent is not required to continue to pay child support is if his or her parental rights have been terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily.  Termination of parental rights is a legally different concept from a court not allowing a parent to have access to the child.  Generally, courts only terminate parental rights if another parent is willing to step into the shoes of the parent whose rights are being terminated.  This generally occurs when the child is put up for adoption or adopted by the other parent’s spouse.  

When parental rights are terminated, the parent whose rights are terminated will no longer have a parental relationship with the child.  This means that he or she will not have any rights to see or communicate with the child and will also no longer have the obligation to financially support the child.

Alternatives to Terminating Parental Rights

The decision to terminate parental rights is grave and carries enduring consequences. Therefore, it’s important to consider alternatives before making such a drastic decision.

Modification of Child Support Orders

Modifying child support orders presents an alternative to terminating parental rights and can help a parent avoid paying child support if they experience significant changes in their financial circumstances, such as job loss or a decrease in income.

Temporary changes, like a medical emergency or temporary job loss, can lead to temporary modifications of child support. Permanent modifications can be granted because of long-term financial changes, changes in the child’s needs, or changes in custody. However, all child support order changes must be legally enforceable and can be automatically adjusted according to changes in the cost of living.

Establishing a New Parenting Plan

Formulating a new parenting plan is another viable alternative. This can redefine the time a parent spends with their child and may also impact child support arrangements.

In some jurisdictions, if a parent previously had their parental rights involuntarily terminated but circumstances change, and they prove they can care for their child, parental rights may be reinstated. Custody modifications can also serve as an alternative to terminating parental rights, providing a way to address changes in a father’s ability to care for and spend time with their children. However, to ensure their effectiveness and enforcement, new parenting plans must be formalized through the legal system.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


Get my FREE E-Book

Similar Articles

Learn about Law