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Does Child Support Debt Ever Go Away?


Child support debt is a persistent obligation that does not typically expire. Parents are legally bound to fulfill their child support obligations, and failure to do so can result in serious consequences. However, avenues such as modifying child support orders or negotiating settlements exist to address financial hardships. It's crucial for parents facing child support debt to seek legal guidance and explore available options to fulfill their obligations responsibly.

Keep reading as we explore this topic in greater detail below.

Child Support Debt Doesn’t Expire

Child support debt is a weighty financial obligation that doesn’t come with an expiration date. Unlike many other forms of debt that may be subject to statutes of limitations, child support debt remains enforceable until fully paid.

This means that even if years pass or the child reaches adulthood, the obligation to pay child support does not dissipate. The legal system prioritizes the well-being of children, ensuring that they receive the financial support they require, even if it means holding parents accountable for unpaid child support well into the future.

Bankruptcy Can’t Discharge Child Support Debt

Federal law explicitly states that child support obligations can’t be discharged through bankruptcy proceedings. This means that even if an individual successfully files for bankruptcy and has other debts discharged, they will still be required to pay any outstanding child support obligations.

This legal stance reflects the fundamental principle that parents must provide financial support for their children, and bankruptcy does not absolve them of this responsibility.

What Are the Consequences of Having Child Support Debt?

Child support debt carries various consequences, both legal and practical, for parents who fail to fulfill their financial obligations.

Some of the significant consequences include:

  • Legal penalties: Failure to pay child support can result in legal penalties, including contempt of court charges. Courts have the authority to enforce child support orders through measures such as wage garnishment, suspension of driver's licenses, or even imprisonment in extreme cases.
  • Accumulation of interest and fees: Unpaid child support may accrue interest and fees over time, increasing the total amount owed. This can further exacerbate the financial burden on the obligated parent.
  • Negative credit reporting: Child support arrears can negatively impact the obligated parent's credit score. Delinquent child support payments may be reported to credit bureaus, making it more challenging to obtain loans, credit cards, or other financial services.
  • Seizure of assets: In some cases, the government may seize assets or place liens on property owned by the parent with child support debt to satisfy the outstanding obligation.
  • Interception of tax refunds: Federal and state governments have the authority to intercept tax refunds to offset unpaid child support. This means that any tax refunds owed to the parent with child support debt may be intercepted and applied toward the overdue payments.
  • Professional and personal repercussions: Child support debt can impact various aspects of the obligated parent's life, including their professional reputation and personal relationships. It may cause a strain on family dynamics and even difficulty in securing employment or housing.
  • Enforcement actions across state lines: Child support enforcement agencies can take action to collect unpaid child support across state lines through the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). This ensures that parents cannot evade their child support obligations by relocating to another state.

Overall, the consequences of having child support debt underscore the importance of fulfilling financial obligations towards one's children. It's crucial for parents facing financial difficulties to seek legal assistance and explore options for addressing child support debt responsibly to mitigate the potential repercussions.

How to Deal with Having Child Support Debt

Owing child support can have significant consequences, especially when such debt only seems to grow larger over time. If it seems like your child support debt is unmanageable and cutting back on your expenses isn’t doing enough to help you afford it, there are two solutions you can try.

Modifying Child Support

The first solution is seeking a modification of the original child support order. If your financial circumstances have significantly changed since child support was first ordered, you may have a chance of successfully petitioning the court to modify the amount of support you owe.

If you are no longer earning the income you used to make at no fault of your own, you can petition the court to lower your child support obligation. That said, a petition to modify child support comes with the risk that the court can actually order more in child support if a judge deems the original amount is too low.

In other words, petitioning the court to modify child support can help you lower your obligation when significant circumstances beyond your control affect your ability to pay, but there’s no guarantee the court will rule in your favor. Consult with a family lawyer to explore legal options that may be unique to your situation.

Petition for Bankruptcy

While bankruptcy can’t help you discharge child support debt, it can help you discharge other debts and even reorganize your existing child support debt into more manageable monthly payments. By discharging your other debt, you can free up your financial resources to focus on paying back the child support you owe.

When you owe a lot in medical bills, credit cards, personal loans, and other consumer debts like these, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you discharge all or most of this debt in a matter of a few months. If you don’t qualify for Chapter 7, you can consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to see if consolidating your debt in Chapter 13 and paying it off in three to five years is a viable option for you.

Contact Arnold Law Group, APC for Assistance

When you’re burdened by child support debt, there are legal solutions that can help you make affording it a little easier. We at Arnold Law Group, APC can assist clients with family law and bankruptcy matters, which means we have a unique set of skills and insight that can help you overcome this difficult challenge.

If you are looking for an advocate who can put you on a path toward a brighter future, don’t hesitate to contact us online and request a consultation.

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