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Understanding issues with back child support

In Massachusetts, child support obligations do not disappear when one fails to make payments. This is true for support debts even after the child becomes an adult.

The cutoff age for child support payments can vary from state to state. Payments may be required until the child is 18, 19 or even 21 years old in some states. The payments may also be ordered to stop if a child becomes emancipated. However, the general policy is that child support payments are required until the balance that is in arrears, or the delinquent payments, has been paid in full, no matter how old the child is.

The enforcement of support orders occurs on both the federal and state levels. Enforcement techniques include levying wages, incarcerating parents in arrears, placing liens on assets and seizing or revoking passports and driver's licenses. The enforcement can continue after the child has reached 18, and in many states, bankruptcy cannot be used to discharge the debt.

In some cases, there are limits to collecting delinquent child support payments. Since statutes of limitations may play a role, parents who are owed the payments might have a restricted window of time to collect after the child becomes an adult. If it is necessary, the parents may have to ask a family court to renew the child support order.

Parents who are seeking delinquent child support payments may consult a family law attorney. A lawyer could initiate the enforcement process by filing the appropriate motions with the court or request a child support modification.

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