How to Get Help Paying Child Support in Arrears

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Life sometimes gets in the way of paying bills, including child support. The arrearages build up fast if you don't do something about them right away, and in some states, the court will revoke your driving privileges or even sentence you to jail for nonpayment of support. You can ask the court for help while you are going through a financial hardship, but the court also expects you to find a job to pay the support. If you can show good faith --- that you are trying --- the court is typically more lenient toward helping you by accepting payments instead of demanding a lump sum pay off the arrearages.

  • Look at another pleading from your case. The heading is at the top of the page, and includes the court, its jurisdiction, the parties' names and the case number. Copy the heading exactly as it is on the sample pleading. Title the pleading, "Motion for Temporary Relief," and center the title just below the heading.

  • Write the introduction paragraph, which explains who you are and what motion you are filing. For example: "Comes now, the [Petitioner/Respondent], [your name], and files this, his Motion for Temporary Relief, and further states:".

  • Draft the body of the motion. The body needs to include all the circumstances, including when support was ordered and how much was ordered. Explain why you were not paying support and, if you've started paying again, that you obtained another job, but cannot afford to pay the arrearages in a lump sum. Offer an amount you are comfortable with paying.

    Number each paragraph, and each paragraph should have one allegation or request. For example:

    1. That a final judgment ordering child support was entered on or about [date].

    2. That the [petitioner/defendant] (whichever you are) was laid off from his job on [date], and has not been able to pay his obligations.

    3. That the [petitioner/defendant] has a new job, and can catch up on arrearages, but cannot afford to pay the arrearages in a lump sum.

    4. That the [petitioner/defendant] can afford to pay [$xx.xx] per [frequency].
  • File the motion with the clerk of court. Ask the clerk for a hearing date, and the clerk will tell you how to get a date or give you a date (this process is different for different counties and states).

Tips & Warnings

  • Get a second job, just temporarily, while you catch up on support payments. You can still draft a motion to request that the court accept smaller payments, but be sure to advise the court you have accepted a temporary second job to help pay your arrearages, but can only pay a little at a time. Choose a fair amount based on the income from your second job. For example, if you bring in $100 per week on your second job, and you owe $3,000 in back support, you should offer at least $60 per week to bring the balance down. If you don't need your second job to cover your original support obligation, you can pay the arrearage balance down by giving the entire check to the court.
  • This article was not written by an attorney and should not be used for legal advice.
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