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“I don’t understand zero” Posted on October 18, 2011, by

There is a saying going around our community of family law practitioners that was started by a domestic commissioner here, “I don’t understand zero.”

A parent will be hauled into court for failure to pay child support.  The parent will say that they have lost their job, or their income has been reduced for some reason or another, and they just can’t pay child support.  The commissioner’s response, ” I don’t understand zero.”

This statement doesn’t come when a parent has been making some kind of payments, even if it is not the full amount that is owed.  At least the parent seems to be trying.  But what the commissioner cannot understand is how a parent can eat themselves and not provide for their child or children to eat – “I don’t understand zero.”

Lesson learned: if you are struggling to pay your child support obligation for any reason, and you don’t want to go to jail for contempt, pay whatever you can.  Keep a close accounting of your income and outflow of money so that you can show what you are spending your money on that is not fully paying your child support.  But, do NOT fail to pay some child support, as you will get no sympathy or understanding from the judge/commissioner if you don’t pay any child support at all.

Please comment, add, refute, clarify or inquire regarding this posting if you are so inclined.  I would love for this blog to become a helpful dialogue and resource.

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3 Responses to "“I don’t understand zero”"

  1. George says:

    Really good advice. I don’t understand zero either.

  2. The Child Support Agency is responsible for administering your child support arrangements, and assessing the amount of support which should be provided.

    The amount of child support payable is governed by formulas set out in the Child Support (Assessment) Act. This Act, together with the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act(which deals with how child support is collected), are administered by the Child Support Agency.

    • Paul Waldron, Attorney says:

      This comment appears to relate specifically to Australian family law, though something similar exists in many other jurisdictions.

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