How to Dispute a Child Support Reporting on a Credit Report

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

How to Dispute a Child Support Reporting on a Credit Report

By Jennifer Kiesewetter, J.D.

If you are behind on your child support payments, federal law requires states to report your delinquency to the credit bureaus. However, you can dispute any adverse reporting on your credit report once you satisfy your back payments.

Man sitting in office at computer signing documents

Federal law requires that any late child support balances exceeding $1,000 be reported to the credit bureaus. For balances less than $1,000, state law controls which are reported. Some states are stricter than others. For example, Minnesota requires that any late payments over $1 be reported to the credit bureaus.

Many people's finances are affected after getting a divorce. A reduced credit score can further complicate your financial situation. If you have delinquent child support payments appearing on your credit report, here's how to dispute that reporting.

1. Order copies of your credit reports.

To understand how late child support payments have affected your credit, order copies of your report from all three credit bureaus—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You're entitled to order one free report from each of the reporting agencies every 12 months. Make sure you order online at annualcreditreport.com, which is the only website authorized to send free reports annually.

Check each of your credit reports to see how the bureaus reported your late payments. Additionally, you'll need to have these reports on hand when you dispute any negative information.

2. Call your local child support services office.

Call your state's child support services office if you're late on your payments. If the state office hasn't reported you to the credit agencies yet, you can ask to establish a payment plan to satisfy your delinquency.

If child support services reported your late payments and you're now current on all that you owe, send proof of payment to see if the office can remove the adverse reporting. They are not required to do so; however, you can explore this possibility.

3. Work with your ex-spouse.

If you hit a roadblock with the child support services office, you could work with your ex-spouse to see if they will certify that you're current on your payments. Cooperation from your ex-spouse may encourage your state office to remove the late payments from your credit report.

Child support services might require approval from the court as well. You may need to petition the court asking for permission to have the late payments removed from your credit report. Again, you'll need the cooperation of your ex-spouse.

4. Dispute the entry.

You can also contact the credit bureaus directly to dispute the delinquent reporting. Each credit agency has its own method for arguing against an entry.

If you have proof that you're now current on your payments, such as a certification from your ex-spouse or an order from the court, the credit agency might remove the negative information. However, they're not required to do so. In addition to supplying supporting documentation to the bureaus, you should explain why your payments were late, such as a job loss or medical reasons.

5. Add a note to the entry.

If you're unsuccessful at getting the entry removed from one or all of your credit reports, you can add a note explaining why you were delinquent. The note allows creditors or landlords to understand your circumstances.

Delinquent reporting stays on your credit report for up to seven years. Additionally, when negative information is reported, child support services can disclose your last known address. If you're still behind on your payments, this information could potentially lead to creditors seizing property to settle your debts.

Negative information on your credit report can affect whether you qualify for a loan, mortgage, or credit card. Additionally, some landlords and employers pull your credit for renting an apartment or for job applications. If you get a notice that you're behind on your child support payments, take any actions necessary to get current before this is reported to the credit agencies.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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