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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

The age of majority and back child support

Although laws regarding the collection of child support may vary across the country, both the states and the federal government consider the enforcement of child support orders to be a serious matter. Custodial parents who are finding it difficult to collect back child support in Tennessee or other jurisdictions for children who are nearing the age of majority may be interested in knowing that under certain circumstances, they may be entitled to receive payments until any accrued balance has been paid in full, even after the child has become emancipated.

This means that child support is a financial obligation that does not go away until the outstanding debt has been satisfied, and payments that have not been not made in a timely manner may remain enforceable after the child reaches the age of 18 or other age as determined by applicable state law. Depending upon the jurisdiction, enforcement actions could potentially include the revocation of the delinquent parent's passport or driver's license, the seizure of that individual's tax refund or a sentence to jail time in some situations.

There is a caveat, however. In some states, there may be a statute of limitations on the collection of back child support. Individuals in such locations who have been adversely affected by a delinquency on the part of the noncustodial parent may face a return to court for renewal of the child support order in the event that outstanding funds are not collected within a limited time period.

There are times when a noncustodial parent will fall behind in this type of obligation because of an unexpected financial setback such as a job loss. In such a situation, a modification of the order could be sought. However, attorneys will explain to clients in such a situation that if it is granted, the adjustment to the amount will be prospective only and will have no effect on any delinquent payments.

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