Unpaid child support is like most other debts so it can appear on your credit report. In most states, a child support enforcement unit will report unpaid debts of $1000.00 or more, but can also report debts less than that, at their discretion. Generally, the agency will usually give you a window of time to contest the debt before reporting to credit bureaus.
If you receive a delinquency letter, it is best to respond as quickly as possible. Plus, you may be able to make a deal with the enforcement agency to not report to the credit bureaus, so long as you pay some or all the debt.
Past due child support payments are unique, in that the original delinquency date and judgment renews itself on your credit report every month the debt goes unpaid. Negative marks on your credit report can have drastic effects on your future financial opportunities, so paying what is owed is crucial.
What if I Owe Current Support But Pay Off My Overdue Balance?
As with most other past due debts, if you pay off a balance, it can remain on your credit report for years, listed as “satisfied”. However, years does mean it will be on your report forever. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) limits how long a reporting agency can continue reporting negative debts on your report.
- Delinquent Accounts: Reported for seven years after last payment before the debt became delinquent.
- Collections Accounts: Reported up to seven years, plus 180 days from delinquency date, and will remain on report regardless if it is paid off or not.
What Can I Do So That My Unpaid Child Support Does Not Affect My Credit?
The best thing you can do, is to keep making payments towards paying off the debt. Though it may seem futile to pay off a debt that is already on your credit report, doing so will increase your credit rating.
Aside from paying off the debt, if you believe an error was reported, you can contest the credit report by sending a credit dispute letter to the credit agency. In addition, if you are having trouble paying your debt, you can contact the child support enforcement agency handling your case to make payment arrangements. Also, scheduling a court date to modify child support payments may help to make upcoming payments a little easier.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
A healthy credit rating is essential for the countless wants, needs, and necessities in life. Discussing your situation with an experienced family law lawyer can help minimize damage to your credit, and assist you in handling your case in the best possible way.