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How is back child support collected?

Back child support, which is money that is due for child support that hasn’t been paid, can be collected on the behalf of the custodial parent and child. When a person is delinquent in paying child support, it is called being in arrears. This is not legal, since court-ordered child support must be paid on time under the terms of the child support agreement.

Thanks to the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, attorneys are able to collect back child support for custodial parents who have not received it. Collecting this money can be done in a few ways. Although failing to pay child support can result in jail time, it’s widely agreed that if a parent is in jail, he or she will be less likely to be able to pay child support.

To collect past-due child support, a person’s wages could be garnished. That would mean that child support would come directly out of his or her paycheck before it goes to him or her, assuring that the custodial parent gets paid. The debt can be reported to credit bureaus, hurting the parent’s credit score. Bank accounts can be frozen, which makes it impossible to access any of the money inside.

It’s also possible for a lien to be placed on the non-custodial parent’s property or for the non-custodial parent to lose his driver’s license. When all else fails, it’s possible that the offender could be jailed for the crime. If the parent can’t pay for any reason, a modification of the child support order could be filed, which would reduce his or her obligation in some cases.

Source:, “Enforcement and Collection of Back Child Support,” accessed April. 14, 2015


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