Last Updated on August 11, 2023 @ 8:30 am

Back Child Support

A lawyer for child support deals with more than just helping custodial parents receive financial support for their children. A child support attorney also helps fight claims for back child support (sometimes called past-due support or child support arrears). When non-custodial parents are faced with the requirement to make child support payments that are past-due, they should get assistance from attorneys specializing family law to make sure the calculations are done properly and to make sure any judgments are as small as possible. Speaking with an expert child support attorney for a free consultation is your first step to getting things done right this time around!

Back Child Support Issues

If a parent obligated to pay child support stops making their child support payments, the custodial parent can take legal action which may be in the form of a contempt motion. Though custodial parents are entitled to exercise their child support rights, so are the parents charged with providing this financial support. Sometimes, extenuating circumstances cause non-custodial parents to fall behind with back child support payments and in these cases, the parent who owes support may have a valid legal defense.

For many non-custodial parents, child support represents a significant financial obligation. A layoff or large, unexpected expense can make it difficult to make child support payments. With the help of an attorney, a non-custodial parent may be able to lower child support payments, providing some financial breathing room. Non-custodial parents may also qualify for dependency exemptions for tax purposes as well as the Child Tax Credit and an attorney can make these determinations.

Typically, when a parent is paying child support, the court allows both parents to alternate the dependency exemptions and credits when they file their taxes each year. This is typical when a ‘reasonable’ amount of child support is being paid. What constitutes reasonable is open for interpretation and judges have wide-ranging discretion to make a final decision. for example, if a parent only has to pay $50-$100/month in child support, it would be typical for a judge to not allow that parent to claim the dependency exemptions and credits when he or she files taxes at the end of the year. But, if a parent is paying $400-$500+/month in child support, most judges will order the parents to alternate the credits and exemptions on their tax filings. This can make a huge difference and can provide the breathing room necessary for a parent that is struggling to keep up with their child support payments.

Types of Back Child Support

There are different types of past-due child support – normally known as past-due support or retroactive child support. Both types of child support that may be owed carry with them different requirements and different methods for calculating how much is owed.

Retroactive child support is an amount that is owed at a time prior to an Order for support being entered. For example, if someone files a petition for child support with the court, the other parent responds, the attorneys have a few court dates and finally a hearing takes place 6-months later, the time period between the filing of the petition for child support and the court order would be called a “retroactive child support amount.” The court would likely add up the court ordered child support amount and times it by those 6-months and the person who owes support would pay their normal amount plus an additional amount until that retroactive amount is paid off. Retroactive child support awards typically do not accrue interest either.

Past-due or child support arrears are different than retroactive child support. Child support arrears frequently are an amount that is owed that was not paid after a child support order was entered. For example, a child support order is entered 6-months ago to pay $500/month in child support. Over the course of those 6-months, the parent who owes support only pays 3-months of child support. The other parent could come back to court, possibly by filing a petition for rule to show cause (a petition for contempt) and ask the judge to enter a judgment against the child support payor for those 3-months of unpaid support. The judge could make a person pay an additional amount over time to pay it off in addition to their normal child support amount or they could order a lump sum to be paid on or before a certain date to satisfy all or a part of the back child support amount that may be owed. Child support arrears judgments also typically accrue interest until they are paid off. In some states, this may be 9% interest per year.

How to Get Rid of Back Child Support

There isn’t a very good way to erase back child support without having an expert child support lawyer negotiate a deal on your behalf. When back child support is owed, even bankruptcy will not usually discharge it. In fact, any debts considered “in the nature of support” for a child are not dischargeable through bankruptcy. These include debts for medical care received by the child. An attorney can help non-custodial parents find alternative ways to handle these debts without causing child support payments to go into arrears. For example, if uninsured medical expenses are not addressed in the child support order, this order may need to be revised to address who is responsible for payment. And if a parent paid for other expenses, the court might apply a credit toward back child support amounts that are owed. Other ways that back support can be fought is if a person lost their job, was injured at work, or (in some instances) was incarcerated and thus, not able to be employed.

Keep in mind that even when a child support order is called a ‘permanent child support order,’ this is just a phrase used to distinguish between a temporary order and a final order when the case is removed from further court dates (typically called when a case is “taken off-call”).  No child support order is set in stone, offering non-custodial parents some level of flexibility. If finances get tight, an attorney can fight to reduce child support payments so the non-custodial parent does not go into arrears with these. To prevent severe legal actions such as wage garnishment, issues with support payments should be addressed as soon as they arise. Filing a modification of child support as soon as something happens that would constitute a “substantial change in circumstances” (such as loss of job, disability, etc.), is essential to avoid any child support arrears from increasing.

What is the Next Step?

Start trying to get your finances in order and look for work doing anything you possibly can. Owing past-due child support can cause you to lose the ability to travel out of the country, have your drivers license suspended, or even end up in jail. As soon as an amount starts accruing and you start falling behind, get legal help. Non-custodial parents should not assume that they are the losers in child support negotiations. Attorneys fight for their rights so children receive the financial support necessary for a healthy and happy upbringing without a severe burden on the parent making the payments. If the financial situation of the non-custodial parent changes and payments slip into arrears, action can be taken to relieve this burden. But the only way to find out if you qualify for this relief is by finding out what your rights are–and you can do that with a free child support consultation today!

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20 thoughts on “Fighting Claims for Back Child Support”

  1. I have a friend who married a Native American. They were divorced a long time ago and the children are in their 30’s. She continues to come back to ask for child support (which the tribal court approves) and he has to go to court to fight it to get it stopped. The tribal court never does anything to return the funds. He paid for all his children until they were adults, even when the woman kept the children from him. how does she get away with this?

    1. Tribal courts may have different rules depending on the health or living conditions of the kids. It may also be that there is actually a past-due child support amount that is still owed, even when the kids are adults, that must be paid off. This is very common.
      You need to speak with a local attorney here that can assess these issues in more detail because it sounds strange.

  2. My child attended high school until he was 19 years old. At age 8 I filed for child support. DNA test and all. The court ordered current child support starting at that time. I contacted them once and was told to make an agreement between the father and I. It never went well. The child is now 29years old. Can I file for arrears at this date and age? I reside in the state of NC

  3. I was ordered by the court to pay child support for my daughter who lived with her mother until she was 9. The mother was incarcerated and I had custody of her but the child support was never stopped by the court. I have been paying back child support for years at high interest rates for a child I had raised half of her life. Can I get the back child support waved as well as the interest if I can prove the mothers incarceration and my custody of my daughter?

  4. Question? My friend is 34 and get father never paid support. She wants to file back support. I’ve expressed its too late, she’s too old and just let it go. She stated I am incorrect. Who is right?

    1. Nicholas Baker

      I have never heard of someone getting child support being the child of a parent that did not pay after this many years. This doesn’t mean it’s not possible in your state, but I seriously doubt it. It’s probably time to move on. The exception to this would be if the adult child is disabled.

  5. My husband is paying back child support from his daugters he always had the girls he had custody but the child support never stoped. even though they never lived with her . and they keep taking his tax income . every year .how can we stop this and take her to court

    1. File a petition to terminate support and a petition for temporary and permanent support immediately. You need to get in touch with a lawyer right away – someone on our team can help. You need to establish custody properly first, and that requires a fathers rights lawyer – and you’re in luck – we have them in your area!

      1. Hello, I am being spent into oblivon by child support past. I am not able to even eat correctly due to past due of interest. I have no idea as to why I am being charged and my dissability garnished at such a rate of interest that I cannot eat correctly due to high cost of living. I am concerned with the law that states no juristiction over me as well as the laws own stating they involved have no ability to garnish. Why are these thieves starving me to death? Can you help? Or is it that cost will bury me?

  6. Hello,
    I have a question about child support and back pay. So 2 weeks ago I got a call from a girl I used “go out”. She called at my work stating that we had a meeting at the AGO for child support.(Never recvd any documents about the appointment) I was shocked because when she came out pg I told her I wanted a DNA test and to for us to go to court if he is mine I’ll take responsibility. Never heard back from her till now. I really thought since I told her that and she was going out with other people she wasn’t sure. She knew my number and where I worked. We haven’t gone to any meetings. I now have a family and care for my two sons from a previous relationship. If the child is mine I have no problem paying child support.The child is now 3yrs old and she waited this long to do this. Can I fight the back pay if the child is mine ?

    1. In many instances, yes, you can fight the back support. Most states have a threshold that needs to be proven on why she should receive back support. This threshold usually involves information such as: 1. did she know where you lived? 2. Sid she have your phone number/has your phone number remained the same? 3. Does she know where your parents live or how to get in touch with them? 4. why did she wait this long to bring a child support case forward against you? If she knew where you were living or could reasonably find that out and she waited, you probably should not be liable for some or all of the back support in many states. However, not all states feel this same way. You need to speak with a local child support attorney and see exactly what the rules are in your area. Give us a call and we’ll help sort you out!

  7. In 2003 I received a letter saying I had to come to child support inforcement unit for DNA test I was freaking out because I have custody of the only children I was aware of having. When I arrived I walked in a room and there was old girlfriend. I was the father, I don’t deny that. What I’m having a problem with is the 20,000.00 in back child support I’m having to pay not knowing the child existed untill walking in that room. And so I paid 400.00 a month. 9 years later which was in 2012 I was taken back to court for more money because she heard I was making more money, bam now up to 500.00 ..they gave me copy of what I have had automatically taken out of my checks plus insurance I have on her every single day since I found out she was mine. I have paid 43,000.00 and my original amount is now higher by 4,000.00. Okay this is not even cool anymore, I am now being threatened by custodial parent about my taxes which I have to pay in every year on. Any suggestions or advice on getting back child support dropped, tired of being harassed and soooo much and not making any headway.

    1. Family Law Advice

      Getting back child support dropped is not easy but it can be done if you get the right father’s rights help. The first step is having an attorney question why she did not bring the lawsuit sooner and that she should have been able to contact you because you were easy to be found. This would have stopped the back child support from having been entered to begin with, but you should have had one of our father’s rights lawyers on the case at that time. Now, what you can try to do is file a motion to reconsider the past judgment and ask that it be restructured and changed. This is not easy, but a father’s rights attorney can help.

  8. I can tell you that the ag office acts really slow on the request to lower child support. I was laid off from a job and the following day contacted the ag office to file for my child support to be reviewed for a lower payment. it took them over 2 years to get it done, in the mean while I was paying more for child support than I was receiving on unemployment…..

    1. familylawrights

      This, unfortunately, is the truth. If you want results fast, you need to hire an attorney, don’t expect the state to work hard or fast for you!

  9. Would I get child support money which was to be paid when I was a foster parent of three children when mom could not do it, she now HAS CHILDREN AND SHE FILED HER TAXES AND THEY ARE TAKING OUT FOR COURT ORDERED CHILD SUPPORT SHE DID NOT PAY WHEN I HAD THE CHILDREN…..

    1. familylawrights

      Probably not. You should have filed a petition for temporary and permanent support back when you had the children. But don’t kid yourself, the state always gets their money.

  10. Hello!
    I have questions regarding my case of being a non-custodial parent,I lost my job months ago and
    i’m sure now i’m behind on payments.they were taken payments out of my checks while i was working
    but the percentage was based on a job in which i first started paying child support because i was making a little more money.I never complained about the amount i was paying even though it put a burden in my source of living because i didn’t want to cause trouble and this is my first time being on child support,last year they took all my tax return and i’m afraid that they might do again this do to non payments now that i’m not working and fell behind.the mother of my son is in jail and i recently started building a relationship with my son.I lost my apartment after i lost my job so i’m homeless now.please give me some advice on what to do because i don’t mind paying just don’t want to be stuck out homeless for not receiving any of my income tax.

  11. My husband was approved for SSD for mental issues in 2010.Thechild was also getting a check on behalf of my husband. The mother also recieved lump sum and on top of that they were taking 500 a month out of his check.In a 3 month period she got more than 9000.while we lived off of 327 amonth and eventually became homeless.They never motified his income even before he was approved for SSD,instead they raised it,and even the judge told my husband we need to get a attorny and we had a state hearing through child support and the lady said it was alot of money recieved by the money not to be taking into consideration!We just need to know how we can get the money back that has been over paid and also file complaint for mental distress this has caused our family.

    1. familylawrights

      When income or substantial changes take place in a non custodial parents life either financially or otherwise, it is necessary to immediately go to court and file for a modification of child support. An expert child support attorney will tell you that the most important thing to do is act fast. Waiting until this happens makes it difficult to reverse. You will never get that money back, but you may be able to modify it going forward. Contact an expert immediately and get a free consultation to see what your rights are and if an expert can save you thousands of dollars.

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