Can I Lose Custody if I Can’t Pay Child Support?

The Relationship Between Custody and Child Support

Parents who pay child support sometimes mistakenly think that the child support is what ensures their parental rights. In actuality, child support is simply financial support for the child and does not influence custody. Custody, however, does influence child support, specifically when it comes to how much time each parent has with the child. Many parents struggle to pay child support but still retain parental rights. The other parent cannot withhold your child from you and the court will not terminate your parental rights based off of failure to pay child support alone.

Child support is calculated using, among other numbers, the parents’ incomes and the time each parent spends with the child. Typically, the parent with sole physical custody receives the child support while the parent with whom the child does not live with pays child support. Because child support is meant to cover the basic costs of raising a child, such as clothing and food, the parent who holds the primary day to day responsibility of covering these costs usually gets child support from the other parent. This is the primary custodial parent. While legal custody is sometimes shared, having legal custody does not necessarily create the expenses that having a child live with you does.

In some cases, a judge may still order one parent to pay child support in shared custody cases. You can lose custody because of many issues, including harming your child, withholding him or her from the other parent, or otherwise proving yourself to be an unfit parent. Failure to meet your child support obligation does not mean you are an unfit parent. Other factors are more indicative of parental fitness, such as your ability to meet your child’s emotional and psychological needs.

No parent should lose custody because of financial status alone. If you are concerned you will lose custody, speak with an attorney. An experienced New Jersey child custody attorney can advise you of your rights and help you take the right steps to ensure your child’s needs are met and your rights are protected. An attorney can also advise you on how to modify a child support order if you are unable to meet your obligation.

Do you have questions about New Jersey child support and custody? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can defend your custodial rights. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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