Being owed child support can feel like a frustrating and inescapable situation. You may not feel like you have the funds available to fight the situation. And you may feel like it's not worth fighting. But there are resources available to help you get the funds that your child is owed. You're not alone.
There are over 3 million Americans delinquent on child support. Some of them work under the table. Others just don't pay. But because there are so many people delinquent on child support, there's a process that's designed to help.
Contacting Your Local Child Support Agency
Many parents make the mistake of trying to enforce child support on their own. You might call or write to your child's other parent, you might talk to family members and friends, or you might otherwise send billing statements or invoices yourself. This is never wise.
Communications about child support should occur through legal channels. Otherwise, there's really nothing enforcing them. You should begin by contacting your child support agency. This agency varies depending on local rules, so there isn't a universal agency that you need to connect with.
Your child support agency will provide notice to your child's offending parent about the arrears. From there, they will try to collect the funds through paychecks, tax income, or even by placing liens on their accounts and their property. They will begin with notices but they will escalate the longer the debt goes unaddressed.
Eventually, your child's parent may experience issues such as not being able to renew their driver's license. And finally, they may be taken to court by the state.
So, you may be wondering with all those things in mind, how people can dodge child support long term. It's certainly not easy. To be able to completely dodge child support, one would need to stop earning money entirely or work only under the table.
Alternatively, your child's other parent could consider taking you to court and trying to get the order modified. This is highly dependent on the custody arrangements that you have, which means you may also need to argue regarding your physical custody. If you make more than your child's other parent and your child spends an equal amount of time with them, you may be the one ordered to pay child support.
Hiring an Attorney
As you can see, there are numerous processes and safeguards in place to try to ensure that child support is paid. But the workings of the state can be slow and there are many cases in which people are able to fall behind on child support for years upon years. It may be that you haven't received child support in a long time and it doesn't seem as though anyone is working on the process.
If you need your child support payments, you may want to hire a child support attorney. An attorney will be able to go through the processes and documents with you, to ensure that you are well-protected, and to ensure that you get child support as soon as possible.
Why do you need an attorney if there are already processes in place?
First, your attorney will be able to help you put through the documentation that you need to and to stay on top of the agencies that are in charge. Second, your attorney can help you if your ex-partner decides to try to modify the child support order, such as by requesting more custody.
It's a very common tactic for someone who is behind in child support to try to get custody of children. If they can get full or even partial custody, it can drastically reduce the amount of child support you can collect.
Finally, there can be issues such as trying to collect across state lines. If you're in one state and your child's other parent is in another state altogether, it can be difficult to interface with different agencies. You may find yourself entirely unable to connect with the people that you need to in order to collect support.
What If You Can't Find Your Child's Other Parent?
This isn't uncommon. Sometimes it can be difficult to collect child support because the other parent has pretty much disappeared. This is when an attorney can help. An attorney can help you hire someone to try to track the other parent down — or help you follow the processes that you'll need to get the child support order enforced.
How Long Can You Collect Child Support?
Child support remains until the child in question turns 18, though there are some exceptions. But if there's back child support, the child support still has to be paid. It has to be paid to the child in question until it is fully paid off, with interest. So, even if a child has already turned 18, that doesn't mean that the back child support just disappears.
This also means that if you have turned 18 and your parent owes child support for you, you can attempt to collect it. This is because children are owed support from their parents until the age of 18, so this would be money that is owed to you. But you would need to connect with an attorney to find out more and to determine the best ways to collect the amounts.
So, what can you do if you're owed child support? The best thing you can do is hire help from an advocate. A professional legal team, such as Trapp Law, can work with you and make sure that you get what you're owed.