Can Child Support Arrears Be Waived? [Florida, Nevada, California Included]

For those who get behind in child support, the arrears can quickly accumulate to an amount that seems impossible to tackle. Many other debts can be canceled through bankruptcy or simply through time, like student loans. This leaves many parents wondering whether child support arrears can be waived. 

Whether child support arrears can be waived at all depends on the state that issued the order. Some states have no child support loan forgiveness options. A majority of states have some type of debt compromise program, but it may not end in a full waiver.

Read on to learn about the different programs across the country that range from zero change to significant arrearage reduction over a number of years. 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney in your state if you have questions or believe you have a legal situation.

Can Child Support Arrears Be Waived?

Child support arrears, also called back child support, refers to unpaid child support. In some situations, child support arrears can be waived. The ability to waive it does depend on the form of the arrears. 

Child support arrears arise when there is a court order regarding child support. When even one monthly payment is missed, it creates an amount due. 

Most often, the court will issue some type of an order to facilitate the payment of the arrears amount due. This usually takes the form of an extra amount each month on top of the regular monthly payments.

For example, consider a monthly payment of $500 with an arrears amount of $1,200. The court could order that payments be $600 per month for the next year to address the arrears amount.

Child support arrears can also be reduced to a judgment. This makes it like other debts, so the amount due can be garnished as needed. 

Sometimes the child support arrears is actually owed to the state rather than the other parent. If this is the case, it may not be possible to waive the arrears, depending on your state.

Can Child Support Arrears Be Waived

Can You Waive Child Support Arrears If Both Parents Agree?

When the back child support is due to the other parent, both parents may be able to agree to waive the arrears. This scenario usually arises in the course of a child support modification proceeding. 

Many parents assume that as long as they both agree, then that is all that matters. While it is certainly important, the court does have the final say in things. 

Any waiver of arrears is subject to the approval of the judicial officer. All child support determinations must meet the ‘best interests of the child’ standard.

Most states consider child support to be the property of the child. This means that only the court can waive the due child support. 

Waiving Back Child Support Due to the State?

Sometimes arrears child support is not due to the other parent at all. The arrears amount will be due to the state if the child received any public assistance.

If the custodial parent applies for any public assistance programs like TANF, SNAP, or Medicaid, child support enforcement will automatically pursue child support. Child support will also be due if a child enters foster care. This is because both parents should be supporting the child before the state has to do it.

If your state’s child support agency is involved in the case, it will not be the parents’ sole choice to waive arrears. These state agencies pursue the public policy of ensuring both parents financially support a child.

If your child support arrears is owed to the state, you will need to look into your state’s arrears compromise program.

Arrears Compromise Programs

If the child support arrears is owed to the state, the possibility of getting it waived varies by state. The term for any arrears reduction or forgiveness is debt compromise.

Seven states do not have any debt compromise program for child support arrears. Those states are Idaho, Missouri, Indiana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Florida.

If your order comes from a state without a debt compromise program, you can ask the court to review your request on a case-by-case basis. Know that it is rare to receive any forgiveness or reduction in those states.

For all other states, be sure to check your state’s program. This will give you an idea of what is possible. A complete waiver is exceedingly rare.

The debt forgiveness programs fall into a few different types:

  • Waiver of arrears owed to the state after several years of on-time payments to the custodial parent. 
  • State-owed interest may be waived with the agreement of the other parent and a history of on-time, complete payments to the custodial parent.
  • Reduction in arrears if a lump-sum payment is made.
  • Reduction in arrears if consistent payments are made to the custodial parent.

You can see that states with a debt compromise program all require timely on-going child support payments to the custodial parent.

How to Get Child Support Arrears Waived?

The process to try to waive arrears depends on whether arrears payments are due to the other parent or to the state.

Requesting a Waiver of Arrears Owed to the Other Parent

If both parents agree to cancel the arrears amount, the first step will be to ask the court to review your case. This is most often done by filing a stipulation to modify child support.

A stipulation to modify child support tells the court that both parents agree because both parents sign the document. In the stipulation, be sure to explain the reason for the elimination of child support arrears. 

From there, the judge can approve the stipulation. That approval terminates the past-due amount, and it would be officially waived at that point.

The judge will almost always need more information to waive child support arrears. This is because the judge will need more details to make the required findings in the order he or she will issue. 

In all states, the court uses the ‘best interests of the child’ standard when entering orders regarding a child. The judge may need more details to be able to make the finding that stopping child support is in your children’s best interests. 

The judge may require that both parents submit financial affidavits and a child support worksheet. The worksheet is the calculation of what child support should be under the laws of your state based on each parent’s finances. 

Additionally, the judge may need to see you both in court for a brief hearing. In that hearing, both parents will each have the opportunity to explain why waiving the past-due child support is a good idea. 

Then, the judge will decide whether to approve the request based on your children’s best interests. The judge holds the final authority to waive back child support.

Requesting a Waiver of Arrears Owed to the State

If you want to pursue debt reduction, contact your county child support enforcement agency. The best thing you can do to get started is start making on-time, complete child support payments.

If you do this, you can start making a payment history to qualify for the programs. It also shows you intend to act in good faith. No state is interested in waiving the arrears for someone who continues to shirk child support.

How to Get Child Support Arrears Waived

Can the Custodial Parent Forgive Arrears?

As always, the court will consider the child support formula’s application to the family’s specific situation. The judge can also hear from each parent regarding the reason for and support of this request. 

When the back child support is due to the other parent, both parents may be able to agree to waive the arrears. This scenario usually arises in the course of a child support modification proceeding. 

Many parents assume that as long as they both agree, then that is all that matters. While it is certainly important, the court does have the final say in things. 

Any waiver of arrears is subject to the approval of the judicial officer. All child support determinations must meet the ‘best interests of the child’ standard.

Most states consider child support to be the property of the child. This means that only the court can waive the due child support. 

Does Child Support Arrears Ever Go Away?

Unlike other types of debt, child support arrears do not go away. The exact method for this depends on your state.

Most states treat child support as a judgment that can be revived. This means that when the arrears amount is determined, the court issues a judgment.

Judgments expire after a number of years, often 10. But, they can be revived indefinitely at the request of the party owed money. 

So, as long as the custodial parent or child support agency wants to pursue the arrears, the debt will not go away.

Other states, like California, created specific laws regarding arrears that do not make the custodial parent revive the judgment. There, the child support remains due until it is completely paid. 

Can Child Maintenance Arrears Be Written Off?

Child support payments, including arrears, may not be deducted from income taxes. According to the IRS, child support is neither deductible for the payor nor reported as income by the receiver.

You may remember that prior to 2018, alimony did alter taxes. That never applied to child support payments

How to Get Child Support Arrears Waived in Florida?

Florida does not have a debt compromise program or any procedure to waive back child support. The best anyone can hope for is to ask the court to review their arrears on a case-by-case basis. 

The court may consider any extenuating circumstances and history of on-time payments. If the debt is due to the other parent rather than the state, both parents can file a stipulation. 

How to Get Child Support Arrears Waived in Nevada?

Nevada is another state that does not have a debt compromise program for child support arrears. There is also no statute of limitations for arrears child support in Nevada.

When a state lacks a debt compromise program, this means that there is not an official pathway for debt reduction. You can still propose a settlement to reduce debt, but the other parent or the state may not be interested.

How to Get Child Support Arrears Waived in California?

California offers a robust debt reduction program. Note that it is a reduction rather than a waiver. 

To qualify to reduce arrears owed to the state, you must meet some requirements. You must be able to pay both your current child support obligation AND an ongoing debt payment. 

Under the program, your income, assets, and cost of living are considered. They also consider your family size. 

This program will not forgive the entire debt or change your ongoing current monthly support amount. It also does not reduce the arrears support due to the other parent.

Each review is done on a case-by-case basis, so there is no guarantee regarding the outcome. To apply, contact your local child support agency.

Final Thoughts

When you get behind in child support, quick action to prevent the problem from getting worse is key. If you find yourself unable to pay currently ordered support, immediately start the process to modify your ongoing payments.

Next, tackling your debt before it becomes insurmountable is key. Because no programs fully waive state-owned arrears, you will have to be proactive to get rid of it.

Finally, try to prevent the surprise of state owed arrears because your child received public benefits. When a child is born, either parent can initiate a child support case. 

If an order is already in place, there will be no unexpected bills if the other parent receives public assistance without you knowing. Avoiding the placement of a current support order may seem like you are getting off the hook. However, it can be more like getting out of the frying pan and into the fire.

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