Trying to provide proper care for children as a single or divorced parent can be a financial challenge. Regular child support payments from the noncustodial parent can help ensure that the best interests of the child are protected. Failure to pay can lead to legal action; however, circumstances change over the years, and parents in Massachusetts who are experiencing financial hardships can apply to have the court-ordered child support amount modified.
Unfortunately, some people stop paying child support rather than asking for a modification. This is not unusual in cases in which the child approaches emancipation. A noncustodial parent may not realize that back child support is not forgiven when the child turns 18. In Massachusetts, there is also no statute of limitations on child support that is in arrears, and the noncustodial parent will remain responsible until the full amount is settled.
There are several different enforcement actions that federal and state authorities can take to compel compliance with court-ordered child support. Driver’s licenses and/or passports can be suspended or withheld; wages can be garnished, and tax refunds can be seized. Liens can be placed on real property, and in severe cases, delinquent parents may be sent to jail. Filing for bankruptcy is also not a solution because it will not discharge child support payments that are in arrears.
Massachusetts parents who are struggling to get the noncustodial parent to pay back due child support after the child has turned 18 can seek the support of a family law attorney. On the other hand, a seasoned lawyer can also help a parent who has lost a job, or suffered another financial crisis that prevents him or her from maintaining child support payments. An attorney can provide guidance in filing a motion to modify the child support order to an affordable amount.
Source: Findlaw, “Collecting Back Child Support After the Child Turns 18“, Christopher Coble, Accessed on Sept. 30, 2016