How to Eliminate Child Support Arrears

How to Eliminate Child Support Arrears

Child support is a financial obligation that parents have towards their children, ensuring their well-being and providing for their needs. Unfortunately, in some cases, parents fall behind on their child support payments, leading to a buildup of arrears. Child support arrears can have serious consequences, such as wage garnishment, suspension of driver’s licenses, and even imprisonment. However, there are options available to eliminate child support arrears and get back on track with payments. In this article, we will explore some of the methods to resolve child support arrears and answer frequently asked questions.

1. Communicate with the child support agency: If you are unable to make your child support payments, it is crucial to inform the child support agency as soon as possible. They may be able to work out a payment arrangement or provide guidance on available options.

2. Modify the child support order: If your financial circumstances have changed significantly since the child support order was established, you may be eligible for a modification. Seek legal advice to determine if you qualify for a reduction in your child support obligations.

3. Seek forgiveness or compromise: Some states offer forgiveness or compromise programs for child support arrears. These programs may allow you to reduce or eliminate a portion of your arrears by fulfilling certain requirements, such as attending parenting classes or finding employment.

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4. Make regular payments: Consistently making your child support payments on time will prevent your arrears from accumulating further. Create a budget and prioritize child support payments to ensure you meet your obligations.

5. Consider a lump-sum payment: If you are able to gather a significant amount of money, you may negotiate with the other parent or the child support agency to settle your arrears with a lump-sum payment. This can provide relief and eliminate the burden of ongoing payments.

6. Hire an attorney: If you find it challenging to navigate the child support system or negotiate with the other parent, hiring an attorney experienced in family law can provide valuable guidance and representation.

7. Request a review of your case: If you believe there has been a mistake in calculating your child support arrears, you can request a review of your case. Provide documentation, such as pay stubs or proof of other financial obligations, to support your claim.

8. Keep accurate records: Maintain detailed records of your child support payments, including dates, amounts, and methods of payment. This documentation will be useful if any discrepancies or disputes arise.

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9. Stay compliant with court orders: Following court orders and complying with the terms of your child support agreement is essential. Failure to do so can result in further penalties and complications.


1. Can child support arrears be forgiven?
Forgiveness or compromise programs exist in some states, providing an opportunity to reduce or eliminate child support arrears under specific conditions.

2. Can child support arrears be negotiated?
It may be possible to negotiate a settlement or a lump-sum payment with the other parent or the child support agency.

3. Can child support arrears be discharged in bankruptcy?
Generally, child support arrears cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy may help in managing other debts, which can indirectly improve your ability to pay child support.

4. Can child support arrears affect credit scores?
Child support arrears themselves do not directly affect credit scores. However, unpaid child support can lead to other financial difficulties, which can impact creditworthiness.

5. Will child support arrears go away after the child turns 18?
Child support arrears generally continue to accrue until fully paid, even after the child reaches adulthood.

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6. Can child support arrears be waived if I am unemployed?
Unemployment does not automatically waive child support arrears. However, you may be eligible for a modification based on your current financial situation.

7. What happens if I can’t afford to pay child support arrears?
If you can’t afford to pay child support arrears, it is crucial to communicate with the child support agency and explore alternative options, such as modification or forgiveness programs.

8. Will child support arrears affect my tax refund?
Past-due child support can result in the interception of federal tax refunds to satisfy the arrears.

9. Can child support arrears lead to incarceration?
Persistent failure to pay child support arrears can result in contempt of court charges, which may lead to incarceration. However, jail time is typically a last resort and is more likely in cases of willful non-payment.

In conclusion, eliminating child support arrears requires proactive communication, exploring available options, and complying with court orders. Seeking legal advice and maintaining accurate records can also be instrumental in resolving child support arrears and ensuring the well-being of both the child and the parent.