Will Child Support Still Be the Same If the Child Turns 18 & I Still Owe Arrears?

By Rob Jennings J.D.

Although child support law varies from state to state, every child eventually reaches the point where you no longer have to pay regular child support. This may be a specific age, such as 18 or 21, or it may be a combination of age and having finished high school or college. Regardless of your state's emancipation laws, you'll have to keep paying if you still owe arrears when the child ages out.

Although child support law varies from state to state, every child eventually reaches the point where you no longer have to pay regular child support. This may be a specific age, such as 18 or 21, or it may be a combination of age and having finished high school or college. Regardless of your state's emancipation laws, you'll have to keep paying if you still owe arrears when the child ages out.

Child Support Arrears

"Arrears," or "back support," are child support amounts that came due but were not, for whatever reason, paid. They may be for amounts owed prior to the establishment of an order or they may be due to missed payments. In either case, they don't go away when the regular order terminates. While you may feel like you're paying to support an adult child, in reality you are effectively repaying the custodial parent for her expense in making up your share of support when your child was a minor.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Interest

In some states, child support arrears include added interest. Because of this, the balance you owe may be more than the regularly scheduled payments you missed. Depending upon the laws of your state, interest may continue to accrue until the balance is paid in full. In other states, such as North Carolina, child support arrears do not accrue interest. Noncustodial parents in these jurisdictions effectively receive the benefit of interest-free loans from the other parent.

Payments After Emancipation

Exactly how your payments will be handled after your child ages out of regular support depends upon your state and, in some cases, your county. In some states, such as Nevada, child support payments remain the same as they were under the old order and go entirely to arrears. In other states, the payments may drop, since the current support amount is no longer included. At the point when a child emancipates, some courts may be inclined to lower payments to more manageable levels, since the custodial parent no longer has to support the child and the child's need to receive support from his parents is presumably lower.

Satisfaction of Arrears

Child support payments will continue until the arrears balance is paid in full, but you may have some options for paying them off sooner. Some states offer compromise programs where interest stops accruing or options exist for settling for less than full payment. If you're making direct payments to the other parent instead of paying through the court, you may propose a lump-sum payment of a lesser amount than the total arrears balance. The idea behind a lump-sum settlement is the time value of money; for a variety of reasons, some custodial parents would prefer to receive a certain sum of money up front rather than a lesser amount trickled in over time.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
How to Determine Child Support Amounts in Kentucky

References

Related articles

Definition of Unassigned Arrears in Child Support

Arrears in child support is a term that refers to past due child support owed to a custodial parent. Sometimes, the government assigns the arrears owed to a custodial parent to the state, for repayment of any public assistance the custodial parent received. Whether a custodial parent's arrears are assigned or unassigned depends on whether she received public assistance.

How to Get Child Support Dropped if the Child is 18

When one parent is paying child support, the support ends upon the child's emancipation, which is when the child can legally act as an adult. However, emancipation does not always occur when a child turns 18. State laws vary concerning emancipation. Furthermore, a divorce decree can order that a parent continue paying child support while a child is enrolled in college. For these reasons, it is essential that you carefully review your divorce decree and your state's child support guidelines prior to making any changes to your child support payments.

Alabama Child Support Arrears Laws

Child support is awarded to a custodial parent to provide financial assistance with a child's basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. Support is generally owed until the child turns 18. When a non-custodial parent does not pay as ordered, the owed support becomes past due, or in arrears. In Alabama, the Department of Human Resources' Child Support Enforcement Program aids custodial parents in the collection of child support arrearages.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

California Divorce Law: Motion for the Determination of Arrearages

When couples divorce, the court often compels one parent to contribute child support. If you fail to pay your required ...

Does Child Support Arrears End When a Child Gets Married?

In most circumstances, when a child of divorced parents gets married, this automatically emancipates the child; any ...

How Are Child Support Arrears Assessed?

Child support "arrears" are amounts that came due and, for whatever reason, weren't paid. They may consist of ...

Does Child Support Automatically Stop When a Child Turns 18 in Maryland?

Child support laws often confound parents because the finer points change from state to state and few universal, ...

Browse by category