One of the most common questions we as Nashville family law practitioners get is, “How can I make my back child support go away? The mother says she doesn’t even want the child support anymore!”
As of July 1, 2015 the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent now have the right to compromise and settle child support arrears (the back support or unpaid child support) and interest owed directly to the custodial parent. A child support debt compromise agreement, or a settlement of back child support, could potentially save the non-custodial parent that owes past due support tens of thousands of dollars in interest alone. In addition, the settlement may be able to stop the State from taking actions against you like suspending your Driver’s License, intercepting your income tax refund, or sending a report to the credit bureaus.
Any agreement reached between the parents must be approved by the Court, but this new statute allows parents to compromise on old child support debts.
There are a few restrictions on arrears settlements and if you want to successfully reduce or settle your arrears, the terms of your agreement must comply with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-101(f)(6).
First, there cannot be any money owed to the State of Tennessee or any other state. The child support arrears can only be owed directly to the custodial parent. In any Title IV-D cases, the Department of Human Services or its child support contractors must be a party to the settlement compromising an arrears balance.
You may qualify for an arrears compromise even if you still owe current support but you can only complete a debt compromise agreement once per case. This means that, if you complete a debt compromise agreement once, any new arrears or interest that accumulates after the debt settlement is entered must be paid in full and cannot be compromised again later. Also, any arrears forgiven in a debt compromise cannot be reinstated at a later date, so the parties cannot change their minds later and reinstate the arrears.
You may compromise on all of the arrears owed, on a portion of the arrears owed, and/or for all or a portion of the interest owed on the child support arrears. However, the non-custodial parent must pay support in full each month for a minimum of twelve consecutive months immediately preceding the agreement.
Finally, only child support arrears may be compromised. This statute does not allow for a compromise on alimony or medical support arrears.
Whether you are the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent a debt compromise agreement may be beneficial to you. Both parents must be involved in the settlement and agree to the compromise. If you believe that you may be eligible for a debt compromise agreement on your child support arrears and the other parent is in agreement, contact the Nashville child support attorneys at the Collins Law Firm, PLLC.