Parents who are owed child support will not have the right to collect it indefinitely. Whether or not you can still enforce a child support depends on the terms of your support agreement as well as the age of your child(ren). If you are owed back child support, it is important to take steps to make sure that you can continue to enforce your rights.
Language of the Order
If you want to collect child support, you must have an order. This order will contain the terms of the support agreement, like the amount owed and the frequency of the payments.
Courts can only force a person to make child support payments once someone else files a motion for support. For example, suppose a woman with a ten-year-old son files a claim for child support against the boy’s father who does not make payments for another two years. The woman would have the option of pursuing the back support payments beginning at the time she filed her claim, not from the time the child was born.
Similarly, a 30-year-old man who never knew his biological parents could not find them and then subsequently sue them for 18 years of missed child support payments. Without an order, most judges will not allow a request for back child support payments.
Age of the Child
A child support order will also include information about when the child support order ends. For instance, some orders will specify an age, like 18 or 21, where the paying parent will no longer have an obligation to make support payments. Other orders may specify an age or an event, like when the child graduates college. The order will let you know how long you are allowed to collect child support payments and when payments are no longer due.
Once a child support order is in place, the person who owes support can be pursued for missed payments for well after the children reach the age of 18. According to R.C.W. Section 4.16.120(3), the statute of limitations on a child support action does not end until ten years after the youngest child affected by the order turns 18.
This statute allows parents to pursue what they are owed well past the time that their children reach the age of adulthood. The state takes a parent’s financial responsibilities for his or her children so seriously that this statute is much longer than the deadlines on most other types of debt.
If your child’s parent owes child support, or if you need to negotiate a child support agreement, contact Pacific Northwest Family Law today. Our experienced Washington family law attorneys can help your family create a custody agreement, child support arrangement, or parenting plan schedule that fits your family’s needs.
To schedule your initial consultation, contact our office today by calling 509-572-3700.