Imagine that you have a child support order in place that directs your child’s father to pay a certain amount to you each month. The father is past due on multiple months and you have repeatedly asked him for such payment. Time goes on and your ex has still not paid the amount due, but at this point your child has just turned 18. So, can you still collect the amount that your child’s father failed to pay? Is this money forever gone because the original order for child support ended when your child reached the age of 18?
The short answer is “yes,” you can still receive the amount due to you in back child support. Even if your child has passed the age at which the child support ends, a parent will still be liable for the amount past due. The amount past due is referred to as arrears. Arrears means that the non-custodial parent was ordered, or agreed, to pay child support and has fallen behind in the payment of his or her child support obligation. Each installment is to be paid according to the amount and date set out in that order. That parent still owes the money under the terms of the child support order, no matter when the parent who should be receiving such payment initiates a case for back payment.
Child support is meant for the parent ordered to pay to assist in the financial responsibilities necessary to care for the child or children involved. Child support is a right of the child and therefore cannot be waived by a parent. Under Georgia law, it is the joint and several duty of each parent to provide for the maintenance, protection, and education of his or her child until the child reaches the age of majority, dies, marries, or becomes emancipated, whichever first occurs. These obligations can be partially ensured through a child support order.
Any Georgia court order issued after 1993 establishing child support amounts should provide for such support to continue until the child turns 18. If the child is still in high school past the age of 18, the support will still continue until the child finishes high school or reaches the age of 20, whichever occurs first. Thus, most child support orders end when a child reaches the age of 18, but under the previously described situation, can continue for longer. If for some reason a parent wishes for the child support to continue past the child’s 18th birthday, and the exception surrounding high school does not apply, a new court order will need to be put in place.
If you are due child support and your child is over 18, please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. Our experienced team can help you through this stressful time. We will advocate for your rights and ensure that you are provided with the child support amount due to you.