Can Unpaid Child Support Can Affect My Credit?

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Can Unpaid Child Support Can Affect My Credit?

Most state Department of Social Services agencies monitor monthly child support payments that a parent owes. They also monitor when the support is received by the parent to whom it is owed. Parents who owe back child support are given notice by the Department and an opportunity to contest overdue payments.

Social Services send credit reporting agencies monthly lists of parents who are more than $1,000 behind in child support payments. If a parent has not kept child support payments current after this notice, the debt will likely appear on their credit report. The reporting continues as long as payments are due on a child support case. Typically, balances that are unpaid for 180 days will appear as collection accounts on a credit report.

Once overdue or unpaid child support payments appear in a credit report, banks and other creditors may limit or deny credit until the obligor (person owing payment) clears up the report by making a partial or full payment of the overdue balance.

What If I Owe Current Support but Pay off My Overdue Balance?

If you pay back child support (also known as “child support arrearages”) and still owe current support, your account will still be reported, but will reflect a zero balance. However, once the account is reported to the credit agency, the negative information can stay on your report for years after you pay it off.

Fortunately, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) restricts the number of years a credit reporting agency can report negative items on your credit report. The typical guidelines followed by most credit bureaus, which also apply to child support payments, are as follows:

What Can I Do So That My Unpaid Child Support Does Not Affect My Credit?

Short of disputing any erroneous charges, the only way to improve your credit is to pay overdue child support so that you are current. Although it will stay on your credit report once it is reported to the credit bureaus, making payments will still significantly increase your credit rating.

If you do need to contest the accuracy of the reporting, you can:

Do I Need a Family Law Attorney?

In today’s market, maintaining good credit is critical to establishing a secure future. Bad credit can affect even the most basic necessities, such as buying a phone or placing utilities in your name. An experienced family law lawyer can help you understand your options and help you deal with the complicated legal system and the various agencies that can affect your credit.

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Last Modified: 01-26-2015 09:21 AM PST

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