Child Support: One Example of the Importance of Returning to Court

If you or a loved one has been ordered to pay child support, it is imperative to fully understand how the law can affect you many years after the original court order.

If you are ordered to pay child support as part of a pending divorce, the language of support often states you must pay “until further order of the court.” This means that even if you and your spouse reconcile, you are still under court order to pay child support, unless you return to court and ask the judge to modify the child support order. To understand how great an impact this can have on you, let’s examine the following hypothetical.

Let’s assume you and your spouse decide to divorce and go before a judge for a temporary hearing on child support. At that hearing, you are ordered to pay child support in the amount of $500.00 per month until further order of the court, which you do for two months. During those two months, you and your spouse attend counseling and work things out. You stop paying your spouse $500.00 a month and you don’t return to the judge and tell he or she that you and your spouse are no longer divorcing. Five years later, you and your spouse again decide things won’t work and you move out. A week after you move out, you receive a summons for failure to pay child support stating you owe $30,000 in arrears plus interest. You immediately contact a lawyer.

The unfortunate reality is that you are in fact on the hook for that $30,000 in back child support because you never returned to the court and asked the judge to modify the child support order owing to the fact that you and your spouse reconciled. Any amount of arrears over $5,000  or payment that is late by 90 days or more can result in loss of driver’s license and any license, certificate, registration or other authorization to engage in a profession, trade, business, occupation, or recreational activity issued by the state. Failure to not pay child support for a long enough period of time can result in jail.

To learn more about child support, modification or arrearages, or speak with an attorney, please contact Winslow & McCurry at 804-423-1382 so that we may be assist you.