I get calls from people all the time about wanting to collect back child support and they’re worried because they think they’ve waited too long to begin collecting it.
The fact of the matter is, that once there is a child support order, and that’s really something underlined. You have to have a child support order from the court. Once that order is in place, that child support is owed period, and it is owed up until the time that order is modified in court.
Let’s just say you had a child support order and time has gone by, years have gone by, but nothing’s been modified. You’ve had that child support order for 10 years, something like that. You should be able to go in and get a judgment based on that child support order for that back child support and then execute that judgment.
This is the difficult part … executing the judgment. How do you collect the money? If the person has a job and you know where they work, you can have their wages garnished and you could get pieces ongoingly from their wages to pay for that back child support. If they own their own business, then you can’t do that. You can garnish bank accounts and there are some additonal, although bizarre, things that you can do in that instance.
You can deal with cars and things like that, but it’s unusual. Most people just either garnish a bank account or they garnish wages to get back child support. I will be honest with you – you spend money to get that child support to judgment, right? It’s wise to have a conversation beforehand about whether or not you’re going to be able to execute that judgment. Otherwise you’ve wasted your money.
Unfortunately the reality always comes down to the fact that you need to be able to execute the judgment. You need to know where the person is and if they have a job. You can’t just get the money out of the air, right? It has to be somebody that you can locate and someone that you can garnish in order to get that money. The important piece of this is to know that you can get that back child support regardless of how many years have past, that money is owed.
Is there a defense against that? The other party could say, “I don’t have the money.” Right? That doesn’t mean the debt goes away. The debt stays with them for the rest of their lives. You can always go back later. If they don’t have any money, they’d have to prove they didn’t have any money. If they didn’t have any money right then but they got a job later, you could garnish them later.
That is how you deal with back child support. Sometimes people have years and years of back child support, hundreds of thousands of dollars of back child support. Talk to an experienced lawyer if you have had trouble understanding or modifying child support agreements.