What does it mean to be in arrears, and what can happen if you are? – The term arrearages, or arrears, refers to something that is unpaid or overdue. That term gets thrown around a lot in the legal world. Particularly in cases where one party owes an outstanding debt to another.
A perfect example of a legal matter where arrearages come into play in family law is with child-support payments. A party in a child-support case is ordered to pay regular child-support payments to their former spouse. They have become the primary caregiver for their children. But for a variety of reasons, either that party does not make the payments as required or makes partial payments – creating a situation where the unpaid amount continues to grow over time.
The total amount of unpaid child-support payments is considered arrearages.
If you are in arrears with child-support payments, your former spouse can request what’s called a Motion to Reduce Child-Support Arrearages to Judgment. What this means in layman’s terms is that your former spouse is requesting the court to take the total amount of unpaid child-support and reduce it to a lump sum judgment. The court is effectively saying, pay this total amount or risk being held in contempt or be incarcerated.
A few quick notes about arrearages:
- Only a court with continuing, exclusive jurisdiction can hear a motion to reduce child-support arrearages;
- There is a time limit to enforce arrearages in the form of a judgment (10 years after the child becomes and adult or the child-support obligations have ended);
- It is up to the person (former spouse) who has made the motion to not only prove arrearages exist, but calculate the total amount owed. If no evidence supports the claim, no judgment can be made.
- Interest payments can be added to child-support payments that are in arrears.
It’s always a good idea to have an attorney by your side. They make sure all your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed in any legal matter you are facing. At Nelson Law Group PC, our friendly staff is here to help you. Give us a call today. For more information about Brett A. Nelson click here.