Often, in cases of divorce where a child is involved, the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent’s child support. Even when there is joint custody and there are two custodial parents, one must still pay child support to the other. This is so that the child can continue living life at the standard of living they had before their parents’ divorce or other separation.

Child support pays for the basic needs of the child as well as other requirements for the child to live, such as food, shelter, clothing, school expenses, and in some cases, even entertainment. Child support is exactly what it sounds like, money to support the child.

What is Back Child Support?

The courts determine how much child support is owed and the person making the child support payments must make the payments to the person receiving the payments. If the person making the payments does not make them, he or she is considered to owe a debt and the money must be repaid. This money becomes known as owing back child support. It is missed child support payments.

How Does Back Child Support Work?

Anyone who has not paid their child support as ordered by the court must pay it back. This may include interest and fees, including the original child support that was not paid. Normally, states handle the owing of back child support, though the federal government may become involved if it has not been paid in over two years. Parents can pay their back child support in full even if a child has reached the age of majority.

Consequences for Not Paying Back Child Support

If a person who owes back child support does not pay, he or she may find themselves facing serious consequences. The government may suspend their driver’s or professional licenses. This also includes fishing and hunting licenses. They may become ineligible to obtain or use their passports. The government can garnish their wages or seize their tax refund or property, such as house, car, or boat or put a lien on it. Their bank accounts may be frozen or the debt may be reported to credit bureaus.

Moreover, contempt orders may be issued, which means that the person willfully disobeyed a court order. These can lead to fines and they may even serve time in jail. However, jail time is used as a last resort, since a jailed parent cannot make payments. And if a person thinks they’re going to escape paying their child support by leaving the country, many countries have reciprocal laws on child support.

How Do I Get Help With Back Child Support?

In order to get help with receiving back child support, the person who is owed should speak with a family law attorney. They will get the ball rolling on what needs to happen next. Even if negotiations are the next step, they should be done through the court. The enforcement of back child support will generally happen at a state level and is alike across all states.

The delinquent parent will be sent a notice stating that they are late, a time frame for repayment, and instructions on what to do next. Depending on what the debt is and how much time they have to repay it, the state may take action against the parent, such as wage garnishment.

What Happens if the Defaulter Cannot Pay?

Even though jail time is a possibility for non-payment, the courts will not jail someone for simply not having the means to pay. If a parent is unable to pay due to lack of means, he or she files a formal motion requesting a modification of child support. There he or she shows his or her current financial situation. If this is not done, a default judgment of delinquency may occur.

Because child support is such a vital part of a child’s living standard, the non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent what is court ordered. If they fall behind or willfully decide to stop paying, they will owe a debt – back child support. This can have serious repercussions on their lives, such as wage garnishment, seizures or liens on properties, suspension of licenses, and even, as a last resort, jail time.

If a custodial parent is owed back child support, he or she can go to a lawyer, their local district attorney, or call their State’s Attorney’s office. They will handle what should happen next. Should the non-custodial parent be unable to pay due to hardship, they must file a motion for modification of child support. This will keep the courts from automatically entering a delinquent judgment.

To work on receiving a modification of child support, we strongly suggest you contact a family law attorney.

Why is Back Child Support So Important?

Back child support is important to the custodial parent because it goes toward the child’s care. Children are expensive and they do not stop needing things just because two parents have split up.

They need to have their expenses covered, which include basics such as food and shelter, all the way up to medical costs and, in some instances, even college costs. Any child support due to the custodial parent will go toward these costs and back child support will still be applied to ensure these things get covered for the child.

Two parents raising a child together will have the added bonus of pooling their money for the said child to receive everything they can possibly provide for it. Separated parents must make this work another way – child support. Any child support not paid is a hindrance to the child’s growth and comfort, so back child support is important in its paid entirety.