In theory, child support is meant to help provide for the child and account for his or her best interests. However, in some cases, child support may actually make it harder for a parent to get the assistance that is needed. This is because a parent who receives child support may be ineligible for some types of welfare benefits in some states.

Therefore, it may actually be in that parent’s best interest to forego child support if possible and opt for welfare instead. Another issue as it relates to child support is that many parents don’t pay or don’t have the means to pay. While wage garnishment and incarceration may be options to compel a parent to make payments, many who owe support are essentially judgment proof. What this means is that there aren’t enough cash or assets to seize in an effort to get a custodial parent the support that is owed.

In 2015, there was an estimated $113 billion in child support that went unpaid in the United States. Most of that debt was owed by those who made less than $10,000 a year. While some jurisdictions will calculate child support payments based on a fictional minimum wage job assigned to the non-custodial parent who has declared no income at the time of the order, there is no guarantee that it can be collected.

If a parent’s financial situation makes it difficult to make child support payments, it may be possible to modify an existing support agreement. Parents may also opt not to purse payments if they believe that it jeopardizes their ability to obtain other government benefits. An attorney may be able to help those who wish to compel the other parent to pay what he or she owes as doing so is in the best interest of the child.