What Happens If My Child Turns 18, But My Ex Still Owes Child Support?

Have you struggled to get your child’s other parent to pay child support? As your child gets older, you may wonder if you will ever see these back child support payments. You may even worry as to what happens when your child turns 18. When the child support obligation ends, are you unable to collect any outstanding child support arrears? We will discuss this in more detail here.

What Happens If My Child Turns 18, But My Ex Still Owes Child Support?

Parents that still owe child support after the child turns 18, should continue to make child support payments. This is because, even when the child support obligation ends, child support arrears do not go away. The child support payments made after the obligation ends will go toward paying off arrears owed. The payor parent may even be able to petition the court to have the monthly payment lowered as the full monthly payments made would be going straight toward paying off the arrears total.

In Florida, there is no statute of limitations on collecting child support arrears. It does not matter how old the child is, even if the child has become a full-blown adult. Child support arrears remain until paid. This is not true in every state, but it is true in Florida. In some instances, even the death of the parent will not release him or her of the obligation to pay child support arrears. The other parent can make a claim against the obligor parent’s estate if he or she dies with unpaid child support still owed.

It is important to note, however, that just because there is no statute of limitations in place on child support arrears does not mean that you should wait to take action. Delays in seeking collection of past-due child support may provide the delinquent parent with possible defenses to any claim to arrears you may seek later on. Laches, for instance, may apply. A laches claim means that the delinquent parent is asserting unreasonable delay in you making your claim to child support arrears.

There are several ways you may be able to collect back child support and the Florida Department of Revenue may be able to assist you with this. The Florida Department of Revenue is authorized to carry out a wide array of actions in order to get payment on back child support. Collection efforts may include:

  • Sending notices of late payment
  • Income withholding
  • Suspension of the delinquent parent’s driver’s licenses and professional licenses
  • Intercepting federal income tax refunds or workers’ compensation support payments
  • Placing a lien on personal property
  • Passport application denial
  • Notifying credit agencies of child support arrears

You also have the option of filing a motion for contempt with the court.

Orlando Family Law Attorneys

At Orlando Family Team, our team is committed to helping people and families. For all of your child custody questions, concerns, and struggles, we are here for you. Contact us today.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.