Back Child Support, Arrears

Filling out the child support application is the easy part. Getting back child support, also called "arrears", is sometimes more difficult! Nevertheless, you should make the attempt to obtain the initial support or file the motion to obtain back child support that you and your child needs. Just remember, if a parent is obligated to pay child support, he/she will likely have a custody arrangement also. So, be prepared to have this person in your child's life.

About Child Support: it is used for whatever the parent deems necessary for the child. This may mean paying family expenses and groceries, or activities for the child.

  • Note: Most single parents really need child support money, let alone back child support, but many go without because they would rather not deal with the other parent at all. Some moms even relocate to avoid domestic violence issues. This can leave mom without financial assistance and the child fatherless. So choose carefully what you will do!

How do I apply for Child Support?

The easiest way I know of is to go directly to the ACF website and click on your state. Then, you will be brought directly to your state's pages, and there will be a wealth of information for you to read about family law, legal aid, child support enforcement, child support guidelines and calculators, etc...

There are online applications to obtain initial benefits using the Administration for Children and Families website. Please do not use other sites which promote *their* online child support calculators. They give you false information. ACF is a government agency--this is the only site you will need.

Real-Divorce Note about child support: In my personal life, because I never formally asked for support with the courts, I was receiving some child support, but little compared to what was actually ordered by the courts later. Don't be afraid--get the order in place so you can even things out a little. Even an extra hundred or two a month could be a big help.

How do I get Back Child Support Payments or Arrears?

If you have a child support order in place:

  • The custodial parent must file a petition or a motion to enforce the current child support order with the court. Be aware, if your ex is really behind, and this varies from state to state, you are allowed to ask for interest on the money owed you. Most parents overlook this factor when filing their complaints, but I think it's a great option, especially with the ease of using online legal forms, which show you how to file and how to sue! Technically, each time you create a motion, you are suing the other person.

  • If you do wish to DIY, RocketLawyer makes it really easy for you to file your motion to obtain back child support. Online Legal Documents by Do-it-Yourself and SAVE!

  • The courts MAY (but I don't think courts do a great job of enforcing child support orders) suspend your ex's driver's license, garnish wages, or do a variety of things to make life uncomfortable. They rarely put a NCP in jail for non-payment of support. And, what good would that do anyhow if he can't work??

  • The non-custodial parent may file a petition or a motion to modify the current support order, to lessen child support, at any time. This is usually done when the NCP loses his job or has a major change, like becoming disabled.He will need to prove that this is a serious change, and courts don't usually head them. He would be imputed an income if he is willfully not paying.

  • How to sue for access to a 401k or a pension: File a motion to the courts to ask for the arrears using your ex's pension money or retirement savings. Most documents are completely DIY type of documents, but getting a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) is more complicated, and may require an attorney. A QDRO is the order that forces your husband/wife to give you a portion of his/her pension, AND it CAN be used to access back child support money.

  • If your ex should die, you can file a motion to have his estate pay for back child support also.

If you do not have a child support order in place:
  • Get one now using the ACF website! You can do this before you even get divorced, as some couples have extended separations, which would require a child support order to be established.

Real-Divorce recommends:

You can't lose with RocketLawyer's low fees, great promos, ease of use, and many online resources, especially for child support arrears:

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Other Real-Divorce Articles you may find helpful:

Child Support Main Page
Custody and Relocation


Disclaimer: The information on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not legal advice and may not apply to your situation. I take the time to gather the best information to those going through divorce, and offer a place for readers to learn, get support and fantastic resources, and find applicable products that are a good fit for them. You can support this site by purchasing high quality products or services from the sponsors I link to.

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