Child Support Arrears - How Calculated and How Long Do I Have to Pay / by Cassandra Hearn

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Every parent has the duty to provide financial support for his or her child.  In any case involving child custody, the court will almost certainly make an order for child support, barring exceptional circumstances.  It is not uncommon for the paying parent to get into a difficult financial situation and fall behind on these payments.  If this is happening to you, you should try to understand how your arrearage will be calculated, how long you have to pay, and some of the potential consequences of falling behind.

Calculating child support arrearages is relatively straightforward.  This will simply be done by looking at how much you were supposed to pay according to the last court order and subtracting what you actually did pay.  The remainder is your arrearage.  This clearly demonstrates why you should always make payments through the child support office or at least through a method that provides you with proof that you made payments.  Making payments in cash directly to the other parent, for example, will leave you with no proof that you made a child support payment.  When your child support arrearages are calculated, if you do not have proof of a payment being made, it is possible you will not get credit for that payment.

Unlike in some states, California has no statute of limitations on collection of child support arrearages.  This means that if you are under an order to pay back support arrears, the other parent can attempt to collect on it at any time.  Accordingly, there is no point in trying to “run out the clock,” as you will always owe this debt until it is repaid.  In addition, the debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. 

Child support arrears can have other major consequences for you.  Child support arrears collect interest at the rate of ten percent.  Moreover, California Family Code 4722 states that after a notice of delinquency has been filed, you could end up owing up to 72% of your unpaid balance if you fall more than thirty days behind.  Other potential consequences include a suspension of your passport, seizure of your tax returns, negative credit ratings, and suspension of state licenses.

We have experience in helping our clients with all aspects of child support issues.  Contact us today and we can talk about child support