What To Do If You Owe Back Child Support?
Child support determination is part of any divorce involving minor children. In most cases, one parent is required to pay child support to the other parent to help with the costs of raising the child. Courts follow state guidelines to determine child support as part of divorce proceedings. If the parent who is required to pay child support (obligor) falls behind in his or her payments to the other parent (obligee), he or she is in arrears. The past due amount is treated as a debt that must be repaid by law.
What Happens If You Fail To Pay Back Child Support?
Any obligor who fails to meet his or her child support obligations faces serious consequences. Penalties can vary from state to state. The federal government can also become involved, with penalties that may include:
- Suspension of licenses: This may include your driver’s license, a professional license, and/or a hunting or fishing license.
- Denial of a passport: If you owe back child support of $2,500 or more, you may not be eligible to use an existing passport or to apply for one.
- Wage garnishment: To collect your child support debt, the government can garnish your wages.
- Seizure of property: Your property can be seized to help pay your back child support.
- Seizure of tax refunds: If you have money coming back and you owe child support, the government can seize your refund.
- Cross-border enforcement: Obligors in arrears may try to flee the U.S. to avoid paying back child support. More than 100 countries have reciprocal child support arrangements for cross-border enforcement.
- Jail time: If you are in arrears and have not made arrangements to try to get current on your child support, or if you are found to be criminally non-compliant with child support orders, you may have to serve time in jail.
What Steps Can You Take If You Owe Back Child Support?
If your financial circumstances have changed and you are having trouble meeting your child support obligations, you can go to the court and explain your situation. The court may be able to make adjustments. If you still have to pay the back child support, you have several options:
- Equitable forgiveness: If your child lived with you for a period during the time you were required to pay child support, the court may forgive a portion of your debt.
- Redetermination: If the stated amount due is wrong, document your payments, correct any errors, show that the court has requested an incorrect amount, and ask to have it recalculated.
- Settlement: In some cases, ex-spouses are willing to waive a portion of what is owed in back child support, reducing the amount of arrears. Often, this involves payment of a lump sum to settle the debt.
- Suspension of interest: You may be able to have the interest on your back child support waived if you can submit a plan to pay off the debt by a specified date.
- Reasonable payment schedule: You can petition the court for a new payment schedule that you can afford.
To gain control of your back child support situation, you may need the assistance of an experienced Montgomery County family law attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. at (610) 645-0100. Attorney Sheryl R. Rentz can help you navigate the process, step by step.