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What happens to unpaid child support debt?

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2021 | Blog, Family Law

A lot of divorced parents in New York have child support agreements that worked at one point. However, when financial circumstances change and the order isn’t modified, a child support order might become unfeasible. If the paying parent falls behind on payments, the debt could get them into big legal and financial trouble.

How long can unpaid child support debt be collected?

The statute of limitations on unpaid child support is 20 years in New York. That means that a child support debt can be collected up to 20 years from the date of default. This could mean that a parent is still on the hook for unpaid child support well into their child’s adult life.

Being delinquent on child support payments can get noncustodial parents into a lot of trouble after their divorce. If the nonpayment is found to be willful and not just a mistake or a lack of income issue, the paying parent could spend as much as six months behind bars. State issued licenses may also be suspended, and the money could be collected through liens.

Can the paying parent get out of the child support debt?

Unpaid debt is referred to as arrears in the legal system. If a person has a large child support arrears, they may apply for the Arrears Cap program, or ACP. The ACP could potentially reduce a noncustodial parent’s child support debt to $500. To qualify for this program, the noncustodial parent must have had an income that was below the poverty line when they defaulted on child support payments.

What can the custodial parent do to collect unpaid child support?

If the statute of limitations hasn’t passed and the paying parent hasn’t qualified for the ACP, the custodial parent may contact the local child support enforcement agency.