I'm Behind On Payments

Is it really possible to negotiate back child support payments and arrears?  Yes, it is, at least to some extent possible to work out an arrangement.  Whether you have primary custody, joint custody, or just visitation rights, you will be impacted by the negotiations that occur.

Working With Your Ex

Do you have a good relationship with your ex?  Unfortunately, the answer to this question is typically no.  What a pity, considering you should be on the same team and working toward the good of the children.  If you don’t have a good relationship with your kid’s mother or father, try to make amends in the best interest of the kids.  This will go a long way to help you out, not only as you try to negotiate back child support payments, but also moving forward with your sons and daughters in mind.  As a divorced father, I work closely with my ex-wife to ensure we are on the same page with raising our children, since I feel it’s in their best interest.  This isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is possible if both sides make a commitment to it.

Since most agencies will ultimately allow the mother or father that is owed the back child support final determination if a negation is acceptable, it’s easier to work this out if you have a good  working relationship.

Working With Your Local Child Support Agency

If you cannot work out an arrangement with the mother or father of your child, whether a former boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife, you may need to negotiate back child support with the agency.  This is common, since so many don’t have good relationships once they separate.  The agency will work as a mediator of sorts, acting in the best interest of the kids, not the parents, as it really should be.  It is possible to have both sides come to an agreement without going to court and without face-to-face meetings with the mother and father.

Going To Court

Hopefully you are able to work out the negotiations of support without having to go to court.  If not, this may be your only option.  When you go to court, there are attorney fees in some cases, court fees in nearly all cases, loss of income, loss of time that could be spent with the kids, and many other unappealing outcomes that do nobody any good.  Still, it may be your only way.  Since this is litigation, you may need a lawyer for the hearing, which costs money.

Offers To Make

Whether you are in court, working with your former significant other, or with the child support agency, when you negotiate the back arrear amounts, there are really only a few options that are even worth looking at.

Forbearance:  This is essentially the owed party forgiving all the past due payments and starting fresh.  It’s not generally something that happens, but it can happen whether it’s the mother or father, biological or adoptive, that have failed to make their payments.

Decreased Payments:  You can negotiate back child support and go for decreased monthly or bi-weekly payments.  This will allow you to keep current on your obligations, so you don’t fall behind in the future.  In the case of job loss or loss of income, this is often an acceptable practice.

Installments for Arrears:  Perhaps the person owed the money isn’t willing to forgive the balances, but they are willing to let you make small payments, in addition to your current ones, until the support is current.  You can negotiate this type of arrangements on your back child raising payments.

Lump Sum:  If the person that is paying is expecting to receive a sum of money, perhaps from a settlement or inheritance, sometimes a lump sum payment can be made to the custodial parent or the one that’s owed the back payments of child support that is being negotiated. 

Termination of Parental Rights:  There’s a good chance that if you are even remotely considering this, the kids are better off without you.  If you are willing to terminate parental rights, you can probably negotiate back child support and have it forgiven completely.  Those that don’t wish to have any visitation with their kids are most likely unfit parents anyway.

If You Fail To Pay

What happens when you fail to make your child support payments?  Whether or not you decide to negotiate the back amount you owe, you will face some very stiff penalties for failing to pay.  Listed below are just some of the options the person owed has, along with options the state has, to ensure you make good on your financial obligations.

Jail/Prison:  The amount of time you have to sit will vary by state, county, city, as well as the length of time since your last payment, and total amount owed.  You can be charged with a felony for failing to pay.  Even if you move out of state, most agencies will extradite you back through the issuance of a warrant for your arrest.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Wage Garnishment:  If you fail to pay, the state will often make you pay by garnishing your wages off the top, before you even get your paycheck.  This isn’t the same as simply having child support payment deducted from payroll, since additional payments can be forced this way.  It’s better to negotiate the back amount owed prior to this.

Tax Intercepts:  If you are way behind, don’t plan on receiving that nice tax return you were expecting.  You’ll most likely get a nice certified letter stating that you forfeit your return to go to the arrears.  This is getting more common and is perfectly legal.

Loss of Visitation:  Only in extreme cases is this generally the case, but it does vary by region.  If you don’t feel you feel you have enough time with your kids now, fail to pay and you could lose some of what you have.

Hopefully you can see the benefits to negotiate back child support payments and put the info to good use.