Can You Pay a Lump Sum on Child Support Arrears?
Parents who are late with court-mandated child support payment accrue “arrears.” These amounts can really add up and, even worse, the state of South Carolina can take action to get you to pay. For example, they might garnish your pay or even suspend your license. Many parents contact us frantically trying to keep the state from taking negative actions.
What happens if you come into some money and want to pay off some child support arrears? The good news is that you can contact the state’s Department of Social Services. They are the agency responsible for enforcing child support orders. You can arrange to pay a lump sum to clear some (or all) of your child support arrears. The sooner you act, the better. But can you pay all future lump sum arrears for child support? Find out this and more by reading below. Surasky Law has proven experience in family law cases of all kinds. Contact us today to get help.
What Happens if I Don’t Pay My Arrears?
A child support order isn’t a recommendation, and you don’t get to pay at your own leisure. Instead, you need to make a monthly payment. Most commonly, a withholding order will be sent to your employer. If you are self-employed or only occasionally employed, then there might not be a withholding order. This is often how people begin to accumulate child support arrears.
The state can try to force you to pay by taking certain actions:
Revoke a license, including a driver’s license or business/occupational license
Deny a passport
Intercept your federal income tax and apply it to your arrears
Use a state income tax refund to offset the arrears
Intercept lottery winnings
Intercept unemployment benefits
Seize personal or real assets if your arrears total over $1,000
Report you to a credit bureau, which will hurt your credit
If these steps aren’t successful, then you might end up in court before the judge, who might hold you in contempt. Consequently, you could end up in jail until you convince a judge that you will pay.
Do Child Support Arrears Accrue Interest in South Carolina?
No. That’s good news. This means your arrears won’t snowball and become unmanageable. You can easily get on top of your debt if you budget properly.
What if I Lost My Job?
You should bring this to the attention of the Department of Social Services. You are legally obligated to pay until your child support order is modified. DSS staff knows that life intervenes and some people cannot meet their child support obligations through no fault of their own. Job loss, illness, or layoffs can make it hard to earn a living.
Under South Carolina Code § 63-17-830, you can request modification with DSS by showing a substantial change in circumstances. However, you absolutely must pay until a modification is in place. Also, any modification won’t get rid of your arrears. You need to pay them—sooner or later.
If DSS doesn’t agree, you can request modification with the Family Court.
How Do I Arrange Payment of My Child Support Arrears?
You should contact the Department of Social Services. They can discuss how to pay off the amount you owe. Many people don’t want to have additional money withheld from their wages. Ask if you can write a check or money order to pay off your arrears.
Can I Make a Lump Sum Toward Child Support Arrears?
You can’t pay a lump sum right now and be done with child support. There are sensible reasons for this. For example, the amount that you must pay could change as your children grow. They might have additional medical expenses, or your income could grow in the future. Those factors could result in an upward adjustment of your child support obligation. So the state doesn’t let you pay ahead and then wash your hands clean.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Child Support Arrears?
The statute of limitations is the maximum amount of time someone has to sue you in court. However, there is no statute of limitations for unpaid child support. That means the state could potentially take collection action against you at any point in the future.
If you don’t have a job now, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Once you find a new job, the court can modify your child support and enter a withholding order. Further, the state can collect on the arrears.
Will the Arrears Disappear Once My Child Turns 18?
Your obligation to pay additional monthly child support will usually end at 18, or when your child graduates high school if they are 19. Beyond that, a court might order that you continue to support your child if they are disabled or if there are other exceptional circumstances.
However, your arrears don’t just disappear when your child becomes an adult. You could potentially face enforcement action.
Can I Wipe Out Arrears in Bankruptcy?
This type of debt can’t be discharged as part of the bankruptcy process. That shows how serious South Carolina is in getting you to care for your children.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
We can try to get your child support modified if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. This might mean gathering medical records or a termination notice and filing a motion with the judge. We can also attend a hearing to make your argument.
We will also try to keep the state from suspending your license, which only makes it harder for someone to get to work. Intercepting your tax return or unemployment also makes it impossible for you to feed yourself or keep a roof over your head. These are drastic steps for the state to take, and we can sometimes convince them not to.
Speak with an Aiken, SC Child Support Lawyer
Surasky Law has proven experience in family law cases, including issues involving child support. Anyone can fall behind on court-ordered payments. However, you need to be proactive in paying off arrears in a timely fashion so that you don’t lose your license or end up with shredded credit. For more legal advice, please contact our law firm. We can review your case and identify the best steps to take in a consultation.