Dealing With Child Support Arrears

Posted on: 29 April 2020

If there is one debt you don't want to incur, it is that of child support. However, unavoidable circumstances can force you to default on your child support payments. Below are some tips for dealing with child support arrears.

Make Partial Payments

The first thing you should note is that you don't have the right to make changes to your child support payments. The government expects you to meet your child support obligations even if you are struggling. Thus, it's in your best interest to continue making the payments and clearing the arrears.

Pay what you can if you can't make the full payments. Your efforts will go a long way in convincing the court that you are willing to meet your obligations to your child. Otherwise, the court might not listen to your modification request.

File For a Modification

Child support arrears are almost impossible to get rid of — they are lifelong debts. The longer you don't pay your child support, the more the arrears will grow. Take an example where you need to pay $500 per month and you default on the payments. A two-month default is only $1,000 — a one-year default is a whopping $6,000.

Apart from making partial payments, another trick to avoid the accumulation of arrears is to file for a child support modification. The court may listen to your plea if you have suffered a substantial change in financial fortunes. A job loss or devastating illness can be your grounds for modification.

Inform the OCSE

Don't wait for the office of child support enforcement (OCSE) to come to you if you are behind on child support. Instead, contact the OCSE and explain your situation. Ideally, you should already be making moves on how to solve the situation. For example, you should be:

  • Actively looking for a job
  • Making the partial payments you can afford
  • Filing a modification application with the court

Being proactive will keep you out of the bad books of the OCSE. Hopefully, your efforts will be enough to prevent the OCSE from taking drastic measures against you.

Apply For a Waiver

Lastly, you can also apply for a waiver of the arrears. You can get a waiver via two main methods. First, you can negotiate with the other parent and, if you agree, get the court to approve your agreement. Secondly, you can apply for a waiver from the court. According to, the government can only waive child support you owe to the other parent. You have to pay the government the arrears you owe it, for example, as reimbursements for public assistance.

To learn more about your options, contact a family law firm such as Scott & Scott, PC.