02 Jul How Long is a Child Support Decision Effective?
Child support decisions often come about in divorce cases and separation cases. If you know who the father is, and he is not helping with the expenses of raising the child, you can go to family court and petition for an order him that commands him to pay. In Florida, we refer to this portion of the Custody process as “assigning parental responsibility”. When a decision is made through the courts, the result is a court order.
You Can Modify Child Support Orders
However, if you there was never an official court order assigning a specific amount of support to be paid, then, obviously, you do not need to file for modification. Modifying a court order is one of the only ways to end or change an official child support decision.
How Long Does the Order Last?
When a court ordered child support decision has been made, the order itself has a section that tells you how long it will last or when it will end. Typically, the child support payments will terminate on the child’s eighteenth birthday or when he graduates high school.
How Does Child Support “Work”?
Once a child support decision has been made by the Family Court, the person who is ordered to pay child support will have a balance placed against him or her. From then on, each and every single month this balance will continue to accrue a new balance. For example, let’s say the child support award and judgment is $100 per month (for easy math). Every month, $100 becomes due and payable to the custodial parent, or the parent taking care of the child. When this balance is not paid in full, it creates a backlog, and retroactive child support becomes due every month in addition to the original $100 amount.
This “retroactive” amount will never go away unless the mother agrees to go to court and let you off the hook. That is the only way to not have to pay a previous child support balance. Every month the same amount will continue adding to your balance. If the amount is $100 and you do not pay it, next month the total amount will be $200. If you do not pay the next month, the following amount will be $300. The monthly total of child support will be added each month to your running total.
That is not all. Some states, as is the case in the state of Florida, will add interest on top of the principle balance. Within a few short years, your balance will be in the thousands. However, not all states are like this. Kansas is one of those states where interest is not an issue. It would be best not to fall behind to begin with.
If the child reaches the age when child support is no longer adding up every month, and you have a balance, this balance still needs to be paid. The only difference is it will not increase by $100 per month.
Your obligation to pay child support will not stop until the child turns 18 or has graduated from high school, whichever comes later. If you have a retroactive balance at this point, it still needs to be paid. You may not have paid it when it was due, but that does not mean the child did not have financial needs in the meantime.
So to recap, child support works like this. The court grants a petition to order child support for $100 per month. Every month, $100 becomes due. Your balance will add up to $1,200 per year, every year until the child graduates high school or turns 18 years old, whichever comes later. This is the principle balance. This is what the court is ordering when granting a child support award.
What Happens If I Miss Payments?
Using the example above, if you miss a few payments, the principle balance continues to accrue at the rate of $100 per month. However, in addition to the $100 per month that was ordered, now you owe the previously unpaid balance. This means you will end up paying more than $100 per month. You now owe $100 per month plus an agreeable amount of retroactive child support. The retroactive balance is equal to the unpaid balance. If you miss one month, your retroactive child support becomes $100. Now you owe $100 child support for a new month and $100 retroactive child support.
Keeping up with the payments the best thing to do when you have a child support judgment placed against you. This is necessary. If you fall behind, catch up as quickly as possible. Your obligation will not go away by ignoring it. The order becomes an official debt once the judge signs it. From then on, the only way to modify the order is through the courts. Any other way is considered disobeying a court order.