Can Child Support Arrears Ever Be Forgiven?

child support arrearsQuestion:

Is it possible to apply for forgiveness of state-owed child support arrears?


While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and cannot give you legal advice, I can give some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.

Where I practice in Pennsylvania, the duty of a father to pay child support is demanded by state law and enforced through a court order. The support order usually establishes the amount owed for child support going forward as well as an amount of arrears the father still owes.

Unless the mother agrees (usually in writing) to terminate the child support case, the obligation of the father to pay — both the support amount going forward and his arrears balance — is ongoing until the youngest child is emancipated (i.e., turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later).

Philadelphia divorce attorney William Phelan
Philadelphia divorce attorney William Phelan

Failure to pay child support can lead to a contempt action being filed against the non-paying parent; and if that parent is found in contempt of the support order, he may face penalties such as a possible bench warrant, jail time, or an attachment of his bank accounts.

Due to the sensitive nature of this situation, I would strongly suggest you contact an attorney who handles family law matters in your jurisdiction, such as Cordell & Cordell, to see how your state’s laws can help you with this serious situation.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Pennsylvania divorce lawyer William J. Phelan, IV, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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2 comments on “Can Child Support Arrears Ever Be Forgiven?

    When I got divorced I lived in California she lived in Texas. She never once included me in on any decisions regarding the children. She remarried and when my son was very seriously hurt and in the hospital listed her husband as the father and did not even make me aware. I could not find about a years worth of money order receipts that I paid. Anyway after 14 years she took me to court claiming non payment $6300.00 well after 14 years of interest the amount grew to 23,000. My kids have been gone from her home for 12 years now. I am being garnished $687.00 per month with is just paying the interest on the now 57,000 balance. I cannot buy a house, this has affected my credit in huge ways, my employment. My wife of 35 years cannot get health insurance. Its just unbelievable the incredible pain and suffering we have had to endure. She alienated the kids from me, the list goes on and on.

    I’ll be paying her till the day I dies and never come close to ever seeing the end of it. Can I sue her in civil court, or is there anything I can do about this terrible debt?

    Please somebody help me.

    My ex-wife lives in Michigan, I live in Texas. My two children live in Michigan with her. My son turns 18 this year, and after taking $800 per month for the last twelve years, my ex claims she will take me to court for what she says she is due. There was a cost of living adjustment in our original divorce, which occurred in Florida. Yes, sounds complicated. I have never missed a payment, she cashed every check and never petitioned the court for more money nor have I denied anything she asked from me. Can she now, as my son is about to turn 18 and graduate claim she all of a sudden needs more money? Seems like an attempt at a money grab that she has planned all along, as witnessed by a “spreadsheet” she claims to have compiled the last twelve years, but have never seen. If she does try to drag me to court, would the court, and I am guessing in Michigan, take that into consideration as well as the fact that she has just now informed me, less than one year from my son not being my financial responsibility to her and her husband? She always told me, not just verbally and I would think, by acceptance without quarrel, that $800 was acceptable. I would guess the only thing she could do is possibly petition for an increase for my daughter who is 14 and would be my responsibility 4 more years.

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