How to Get Back Child Support Waived

By Christine Funk, J.D.

How to Get Back Child Support Waived

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Child support is a legal obligation paid to the custodial parent for the care and feeding of minor children (and, in some cases, children 18 and older). A court of proper jurisdiction orders such payments. Since it is a court-ordered obligation, getting back child support waived requires going through a legal process.

Couple across desk from person in all black in swivel chair

Child Support Terms

Engaging in a discussion of how to waive past due payments requires understanding some legal terms. First, this type of financial support is an amount of money a court calculates by taking into consideration the parents' income, the number of children the parents are responsible for, and other state law factors. In this arrangement, a portion of one parent's income goes to the other parent to support their children. "Back child support" is a term used to describe payments that were previously due and remain owed. "Child support arrears" is another term used interchangeably.

Sometimes a parent falls behind on payments through no fault of their own; for instance, they might lose their job due to a layoff. Even when a parent can find a new job, it doesn't always pay as well as the previous one did. Sometimes, a parent faces an additional and immediate cost, such as the need to repair a car, which, as their only means of transportation, is necessary in order to keep their job and continue making payments. Sometimes, other life circumstances present themselves and result in someone falling behind.

Waiving Back Payments Owed to a Parent

In some cases, courts waive some or all back child support, but these scenarios involve the cooperation of both parents. If you follow these three steps, you and your ex-spouse can have a waiver filed with the court.

1. Try to come to an agreement that satisfies both parents.

The parent in arrears might make an offer to pay a portion of the back support owed in exchange for the other parent agreeing to waive the remaining balance due. However, even if you both agree on terms, only a court can approve a settlement that waives child support owed.

2. Record your agreement in writing.

If the parties come to an agreement, they must reduce it to writing and properly file it with the court for consideration. Find out if your state has additional requirements, such as signing in front of a witness or having the agreement notarized.

3. Wait for the court's decision.

The court engages in a balancing test, considering whether waiving the past due payments is in the child's best interest. Often, if the parents agree and the explanation for the failure to pay is reasonable and related to life circumstances beyond the parent's control, the court signs off on the agreement. However, if the court feels there is fundamental unfairness to the agreement, that it is not in the child's best interest, or that it was signed under duress, they may choose not to sign off on the agreement to waive back support.

Waiver of Back Child Support Owed to a State

Each state sets its own laws. However, in every state, if a family receives public assistance, the state collects applicable payments to reimburse the cost of the public assistance. The other parent is not legally able to enter into an agreement to waive back payments owed to the state.

Instead, a parent in arrears must engage in waiver negotiations with the state. Many states have help available online for parents who want to settle their debt for a fraction of the amount owed, provided they meet certain conditions.

Back child support, or child support arrears, can build up if a parent encounters some kind of financial hardship. Because it is a court-ordered arrangement, parents must go through a legal process to waive these payments. Follow these steps when going through the process to protect yourself and your child.

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.