I’m still paying off child support arrears for my adult child. When will it stop?

Question:Divorce lawyer Leslie Lorenzano

I have been paying child support arrearages for what seems like forever.

My child is now a grown adult with a family of his own yet I am still trying to pay off child support!

Why do I have to keep paying if the money is no longer going to support my child?


Child support arrearages can build up quickly and take months or years to eliminate.

Child support arrearages do not disappear when the original support obligation terminates. So even though your son is an adult with his own family to support, you still owe money for the support you were obligated to pay when your son was a minor child.

You should not, however, be paying for any new support obligations at this point, so make sure that the support you are paying is only for the back support you owe from years past.

If you are paying for arrearages accrued while your son was a minor, you will have to continue to pay those support arrearage payments until the arrearage is paid off. When you are in arrears on support, the state may take a number of steps to force you to pay your arrearage, including garnish your wages and apply your tax refund to your arrearage.

The court can also charge interest for your arrearage. The support you pay continues to go to the person you owed the payments to, presumably the mother of your son. You may not file bankruptcy on your child support arrearages, and the support arrearage will not go away until it is paid in full.

The best way to determine how to eliminate your arrearage is to first check with the Child Support office to determine how much arrearage you still owe and ensure that this is the correct amount (calculation errors can be made by the state).

If the amount owed is incorrect from some reason, such as you were held liable for support after your child was declared emancipated by the court or you were held liable for support in an amount different from the court-ordered amount, you may petition the court to fix your child support obligation.

If the amount you owe is correct, then you are obligated to pay that amount in full eventually. You may be able to contact the child support division of the prosecutor’s office to discuss settling on your arrearage as well.

Cordell & Cordell has divorce attorneys located nationwide.


Leslie Lorenzano is a Staff Attorney in the Indianapolis, Indiana office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Lorenzano is licensed in the state of Indiana and the U.S. District Court Sothern District of Indiana. Ms. Lorenzano received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Purdue University, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona – James E. Rogers College of Law.

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241 Comments on "I’m still paying off child support arrears for my adult child. When will it stop?"

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26 days 13 hours ago
I am the father of two boys, both of which are over 18 now. The mother of one of them, gave her mother custody of our child when he was about 1, and I was still forced to sign my rights over later when he was about 5 – Somehow, I still had to pay back child support. As to my first son, over the time of his first 14/15 years, I paid over $40,000 cash. When he was about 14 or 15, he was having trouble with his mother and it was agreed that he would move in with… Read more »
3 months 1 day ago
My friend has been paying child support for 18 years now. The mother never wanted my him to have any interaction with the child only financial. The child has down syndrome and we just heard that California has a law that requires to pay child support for the rest of the child life because he is considered disable. I think its so unfair because he has been very responsible paying up to $1500 a month plus all his medical expensive for the mother not to work and living of the child support. My friend is married and has no children… Read more »
4 months 21 days ago
I already paid off my balanced …including interest … But after a month I received a letter again that I still owe her this amount of money??? I don’t get it!! I been writing them letters and showing them that I already done paying my debt but still they don’t hear me out but still sending me bills. I want to hire a lawyer at that time but I lost my job and still charging me for that monthly payment plus interest on top of the interest… What is the best thing should I do to stop this? Thank you
7 months 24 days ago

My ex daughter-in-law was given $800 for back child support and she doesn’t want to report it.

1 month 11 days ago

Your son should only make payments through the child support office. Even if it is a little as $20.00. This way, the support is always acknowledged.

8 months 9 days ago
Ya’ll want to hear a good one, we’ll here you go. I have 2 daughters, 1 just turned 21 and the other just turned 19. My oldest never married, but my youngest just got married. I’m the custodial parent and worked my butt off to make sure they had any and everything they wanted. In the mean time their father was in and out of prison cause he was and is an alcoholic along with being very abusive. We got a divorce in 1999 and by then he had already had several dui’s, plus the domestic abuse. I opened a… Read more »
4 months 29 days ago

Oh I hear you Los Angeles County will not listen I had one case in two places Los Angeles and Orange County Los Angeles would not listen it went on for years garnish my wages from two counties finally one year one woman called me from Orange County and told me that she saw the problem she helped me she called down to Los Angeles and they finally got it straight after 3 years

8 months 10 days ago
R. Cole
8 months 27 days ago
Non-custodial parents, making up the majority of men are treated unfair when it comes to welfare! If you make noncustodial parents pay it back and tell them to get another job if they can to pay it off, but these welfare queens and kings and illegal aliens don’t have to look for work and pay it back! Non-custodial fathers are not “Deadbeats” we are “Dead Broke”! Quit your damn judging. You know nothing of each individual case. You weren’t there. The courts are bias towards fathers in this country and I just proved It. If you doubt it, just call… Read more »
3 months 1 day ago

I agree… family court is crooked and treat father unfair. We now live where we fight for equality so women and men work so both should help pay for child as 50/50 and should take into account all other expenses that one has. How to change the laws?

Fix it....it's broken
8 months 29 days ago
I am writing regarding a friend. 6 years ago he paid his back child support in full, but was told he would have to pay the interest that had built up. So every single week for the past 6 years he has paid $70 per month towards that interest, with no end in sight. Then he went to his bank the other day and his account was frozen by the state, because they said he owes several thousand in back child support. Now he has no money for food or anything. And of course he has to get legal help… Read more »
9 months 11 days ago
Biggest joke is for the dads who are not deadbeats. I feel like I pay for all the ones who are.. I have two girls I see and love to death.. they are my life… I lost a job making 100k.. and went to nothing .. I notified my ex and while collecting unemployment I paid her 35 percent of what I was getting from unemployment. I called my attorney and he goes dummy go to the court and modify it.. so I did.. me and my ex had the agreement well in court she says no I want what… Read more »
3 months 1 day ago

Unfair, that the dads that are responsible pay for all the deadbeats dads. The family count doesn’t do anything about it.

10 months 1 day ago
There should definitely be a law that states if the father does not know about the child, there should be no back child support. A mother that keeps this from the father, taking away from him his relationship with the child then gets greedy and goes for $$ should be criminal. That said let me say this. A father needs to take care of his kids. You dads should be fighting for them. I know its an uphill battle, but without trying you get nothing and its not in the best interest of your children. Fight for them, be there… Read more »