They don't force you, you need to make an economic decision which by signing a 2 year contract was one. So to unwind it, that may be expensive, but you could always sell those phone as you now own them.
If you have kids, putting them on a shared plan is a recipe for disaster. Prepaid for kids should be mandatory
I for one buy 1 year old used phones from people who can't wait for under $200 and then put them on contract-free prepaid.
I don't like the phone: Off to CL or ebay
I don't like the carrier, Off to another one.
Even if you must stay on Verizon (I dont) pageplus offers unlimited and 2 GB of data for $55. If you are keen and buy discounted cards you can get it for $50 with no tax. Is it 3G yes, but so was every iPhone until this AM.
And for the parents they get PPC flip phones (yes they still exist) for $70 for the year as they are minimal users.
If you want to walk in the Lexus showroom, expect to pay.
The last time I had a cell phone contract was back in the days of Cellular One and they used to hit me with roaming fees all the time.