Man calculating his child support arrears with lawyer.

How Long Can Child Support Arrears Be Collected?

In order to be enforceable, child support obligations must be in a written child support order signed by a circuit court judge. Should a parent fail to pay an unofficial or orally or informally agreed upon child support obligation, there is no legal recourse available. If there is a legally binding child support order in place, however, the parent who is to receive child support payments may seek legal recourse against a parent who has failed to pay a child support obligation. When the payor parent fails to pay child support, it is referred to as “child support arrears.” 

Child support arrears refer to the amount of child support owed that a parent has failed to pay. Missed payments can quickly add up and both parties to the child support order should be made familiar with when child support arrears may be collected.

Child Support Arrears – When Do You Stop Paying?

It is a longstanding myth that once a child reaches the age of majority, turns 18 years old, child support arrears, also referred to as “back child support,” cannot be collected. This is not true. Florida law has no statute of limitations on collecting past-due child support. In other words, there is no time limit on when a parent can seek a collection of child support arrears and the Florida Department of Revenue has the legal authority to indefinitely pursue a parent to enforce child support arrears. A parent entitled to receive child support payments that have been missed has the ability to seek collection of that back child support even when the children related to the child support order are all grown up.

Penalties for Overdue Child Support

If you are a parent who is supposed to be receiving child support but the payor parent has failed to make the requisite payments, you may seek collection of those missed payments through filing a motion for contempt with the circuit court. A hearing on the matter will be scheduled and the judge will issue a decision as to what the total child support arrears are and whether interest on the missed payments should be assessed. Should the payor parent fail to pay and refuse to agree to a payment plan, then the court has the authority to sentence the parent to jail time for no more than 179 days or until the parent pays the amount set by the judge. Other penalties that the delinquent payor parent may be subject to include:

  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Loss of license plate
  • Seizure of bank account funds
  • Loss of hunting and fishing licenses
  • Seizure of tax refunds
  • Loss of vehicle registration
  • Seizure of lottery winnings
  • Loss of professional licenses

Contact the Orlando Family Team Today

If you have failed to receive court-ordered child support payments, you have legal options available to you. Life can be busy with children, work, and everything else life has to throw your way. Know that your right to collect child support arrears does not expire. The dedicated child support attorneys at Orlando Family Team will help you pursue the child support you are owed. Contact us today.