A typical child custody agreement often involves one parent paying child support to the other parent in order to help with the financial costs of raising a child. The United States stands firm that children have the right to receive financial support from their parents. In 1975, Congress established the Child Support Enforcement Program under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act to collect child support. The implementation of the program is shared by both federal and state agencies. The federal agency responsible for child support enforcement is the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The Arkansas program is administered by the Department of Finance and Administration, Revenue Division, Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). Even most joint custody agreements involve one parent paying child support to the other. Remember, that joint custody means that both parents are able to make decisions on the child’s behalf, but the child most likely spends the majority of his or her time with one parent. For more details about the various types of child custody, check out one of my previous blogs. The court determines the amount of child support as a part of the divorce proceedings (see this past blog about how child support is determined), which means the obligor (the person paying the child support) is required by law to pay the obligee (the person receiving the child support).
Under Arkansas child support law, a judge can award child support all the way back to a child’s birth. If you are a parent of a minor child, a person or agency who has obtained physical custody of a minor child, a minor child whose parents have relinquished you or are with the Office of Child Support Enforcement, you may file a petition for back child support. However, you must file before the child turns 18 or up to five years after his or her 18th birthday. Also, you must fully prove through substantial evidence that the amount you claim is owed, is unpaid. Additionally, if you are an adult child to whom child support was owed during your minority you may file a petition for retroactive child support. If you are owed back support, you should not take matters into your own hands even if you are willing to accept a smaller amount. You must always go through the proper channels. Hiring an attorney such as Kevin Hickey is the first step in getting retroactive child support.
What do you do if you are the one that owes back child support? There are a couple of things you can do to fulfill your obligation as soon as possible: 1) Hire Kevin Hickey Law Partners; and 2) Show that you want to meet the obligation. Showing the court that you want to be responsible and pay what you owe will look more favorable to them allowing you to find a reasonable solution. Avenues that our firm will help you explore:
- Determining the amount of back child support you owe by correcting any errors in the amounts owed. We will help you gather appropriate documentation to prove what payments have been made to present to the court.
- If your child lived with you for a portion of the time during the time you were to pay child support, the court may allow for equitable forgiveness of a portion of the back child support debt.
- Our firm can help you develop a reasonable payment schedule and present to the court. The most important thing to prove is that you want to do right by your child and pay what you owe.
In addition to harming your child’s financial well-being, there are serious consequences for anyone not paying child support like losing your license, passport and jail time as this is contempt of court.
It is important to note, that filing for bankruptcy will not forgive back child support. This is important for both sides to recognize. Many of our clients seeking back child support payments were convinced by the other parent that since he or she filed for bankruptcy they did not owe the back child support. This is simply not true. Bankruptcy does not relieve anyone of his or her obligation to financially support their child.
If you are owed back child support or if you owe back child support and want to set-up a plan to pay, you need to contact Kevin Hickey Law Partners today so we can begin the process of getting the situation rectified for the sake of your child. Our experience and expertise allow us to determine the right method in getting the back child support owed to you or the right method to help you set-up a repayment plan.