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Child Support Debt Does Not Go Away After a Child Turns 18

A Kentucky parent who is not receiving court-ordered child support payments from the other parent may be able to collect on the back payments after their child turns 18 years old. Although most child support orders are terminated once a child reaches adulthood, a noncustodial parent’s obligation to pay the outstanding child support balance will not go away.

Child support debt is usually not dischargeable in bankruptcy, so a noncustodial parent’s child support debt will continue to exist even if the parent’s other debts have been discharged. If a parent continually fails to make child support payments, child support enforcement officials have some serious tools at their disposal. Noncustodial parents could face wage garnishment, property liens, revocation of their driver’s license and jail time if they do not pay child support.

Some child support orders extend beyond a child’s 18th birthday to the age of 19 or 21. In other cases, a child support order may end before a child is 18 if the child becomes legally emancipated. If an outstanding child support debt still exists after the child support order is terminated, the paying parent must continue to make payments.

Courts take these matters very seriously. A custodial parent may want to learn from an attorney about how to collect unpaid child support from the noncustodial parent. An attorney may be able to help the parent to alert the proper authorities about the outstanding child support debt and help to locate the noncustodial parent if that becomes an issue.