Ask A Lawyer: I Am Currently In Arrears, Any Advice?


In 2002 I was approached by a man stating that his daughter could possibly be my daughter. I then searched this mother and daughter down and ordered a DNA test.  The child is 13 yrs of age at this time. Results came back that I was the father.

I then tried to build a relationship with this child by spending countless hours with her. I also gave the child and her mother money and support. Then in 2006 the other guy filed to vacate child support that he was ordered to pay since 1990. I signed acknowledgement of paternity in 2006. I was then ordered to pay support back until date of DNA results 2002. This shows me in arrears and they recently froze my bank account. The arrears add up to $18,000 plus interest. The child is now 20yrs old and has two kids. She now lives in public housing away from her mother but yet I’m still paying the mom.

It’s not that I was or am trying to get out of helping the child out, but had I known this from the start I wouldn’t be in this predicament. It’s not my fault that this woman couldn’t or didn’t want to figure out who the father was.  Any advice?



You do not state whether you had an attorney during any of these proceedings.   You should take all the court documents and paternity documents to a qualified family law attorney to review what happened in court.  You may have an option under the laws of your state to seek relief. 

While liability for support from the signing of the paternity acknowledgment forward would be expected, it is unclear as to why you would be liable for support prior to your acknowledgement of paternity and a complete review of the court proceedings and the laws of your state would be needed to determine your options.

The child support is due the mother, not the child, and your obligation remains enforceable for a period of time after the child is emancipated as determined by the laws of your state.  If the child support was properly imposed, you may still have an opportunity to negotiate a settlement of the outstanding balance with the mother if permitted in your state.  Until the judgment is satisfied, you are at risk of liens, garnishments, tax refund intercepts, and all other judgment collection methods available in your state.


Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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One comment on “Ask A Lawyer: I Am Currently In Arrears, Any Advice?

    Just a dad
    Yeah true it would have been easier had you known about this earlier but the law is the law. You might try to talk to the mother and negotiate a full payout of these monies. Sometimes getting a personal loan is easier than paying local penalties on arrears. Secondly unfortunately you owe the monies to the ex and thats a fact. As frustrating as it may seem to be paying it and maybe taking away from helping your daughter instead. I would count my blessings that the previous “dad” has no way of collecting his share! Imagine how he feels losing his “daughter” and money to this irresponsible woman. Good luck with your battle.

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