Can you avoid child support payments in California? The answer is yes—but with certain caveats.

Agreeing on Zero

Occasionally, divorcing couples desire to negotiate the child support arrangements outside the court, with no court order mandating one parent to pay a specific amount per month. At first look, this appears to be impossible. Child support is mandatory in California—it cannot be waived by law by either party.

But there is a loophole. If both parents agree to set the amount of child support to $0, then the court will sign off on that agreement.

When to Agree on Zero

Suppose you still have an amicable relationship with your ex, and you are confident that he/she will contribute towards the support of your child, even without a court order. In that case, "zero child support" can be a viable option.

Parents who have an equitable visitation schedule and have similar incomes are also good candidates for the "zero child support" option if they so desire it.

Co-parenting comes in all shapes and sizes. Parents often find inventive ways to share the costs and efforts in raising their child between themselves. In these arrangements, good faith and clear communication between parents can provide a loving and financially stable environment for the child to thrive without the need for a court order.

When Not to Agree on Zero

Ex-spouses rarely exercise the "zero child support" option when there is too much "bad blood" to trust an ex to support the child without a court order, or one parent earns significantly more income than the other.

Some people want to sever their relationship with their ex entirely and have no desire to receive a check from them. However, we strongly discourage anyone from making a decision when highly emotional. Child support can be critical to maintaining your child’s long-term best interests. 

For the Zero Option, Legal Paperwork Must Be Exact

Setting the amount of child support to zero must be done using precise documentation. The request must be worded properly for the court to process and approve it. It is crucial that you consult a professional to get the outcome that you want.

Significantly, even after the court issues a “zero child support” order, parents may request a modification from zero to a higher amount. The request for modification, however, also requires precise documentation and paperwork for the court to process and approve it. 

If you desire a “zero child support” divorce or want to modify a “zero child support” order, contact Park Family Law. Whether you need an experienced mediator to amicably and efficiently settle your case or an aggressive litigator to get you the best results in court, Park Family Law can assist you every step of the way.