Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
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Great. Thank you for your question.
Over what period of time did the principle accrue?
When my son was between the ages of 3-6 or so, I had moved to Massachusetts, hit a few hard times, and payments were very random. This caused a lacking in continuous payment. Once I obtained constant employment, I never fell behind again on payments.
Did the other parent collect public assistance while due child support after you fell behind?
Yes. She eventually married and received payment via 'his' Army arrangements, plus public assistance without his knowledge.
To your recollection, did Alabama's Child Support Enforcement Office seek the order of support against you? Typically, if a single parent is receiving public assistance, CSE will independently seek a child support order if one is not already in effect.
I believe it was his mother who asked for the arrangement, as I had recently left the state. I was at the time seeking employment (change of pace) in Massachusetts, and understandably she believed this to be my attempt at escaping responsibility. I do not believe she was receiving public assistance at that time.
Ok. I should start by saying that because the nuances of every situation are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without having your order for support examined in person by legal counsel, but that said, it's legally difficult to reduce child arrears, both the principal and the interest. Normally, no portion can be discharged. The purpose of this conversation, from my perspective, is to discuss exceptions to that general rule. I should ask at this juncture whether the other parent would be accept a reduction in the total amount owed in exchange for a lump-sum payment?
I am fairly certain she would be open to lump sum payment as a solution to the reduced total amount. I have not discussed it with her directly, yet that was my next step.
We have only discussed personal career opportunities that I have missed due to not being able to obtain passport verification. (child support exceeding $2500)
Ok, basically, the statute of limitations for enforcement of an Alabama child support obligation is 20 years, so one would basically have to go without making any sort of payment for 20 years from the date a payment is due in order for the obligation to be non-enforceable. When the order is made, it is enforceable completely, and the state will not go back and reward the obligor for non-payment by reducing the amount owed. The good news, however, is that the parent to whom the money is owed is generally allowed to reduce the amount due in exchange for a lump sum payment. This happens fairly frequently. A normal scenario might be where a mother is owed $20,000 in back child support and she accepts a reduction in the total to something like $10,000 for a lump-sum payment. A court may honor the agreement if properly drafted. Some states have no expiration on a child support obligation, so Alabama is a little bit more forgiving in that regard, but a 20 year statute of limitations is not going to help you today. You may not be able to go to the court and ask for a reduction without the other parent's permission, but you can approach the other parent about settling for a lump-sum in the amount of the principal. I would just strongly, strongly encourage you to get that agreement in writing with the assistance of an attorney.
So although I do wish that there were more options for parents who find themselves in the vice of child support interest, I hope that this information helps you to understand the law in this area.
Does that make sense?
Yes. That was exactly what I was seeking. So my next best step would be to have a agreement between my ex and myself drawn up legally to present to the Alabama (courts) stating that she'd accept a fixed lump sum payment in exchange for a reduced total of overall back support arrears.
Yes. Speak with an attorney about getting an agreement drafted.
That is correct.
Is there a 'name' in particular for this type of action?
I'm not sure that I understand the question. I do apologize. Could I bother you to rephrase?
Is there a 'name' such as 'Child Support Arrangement', or "Lien Removed' when requesting paperwork with my attorney? Or do I simply speak with them to allow them to present me with the necessary paperwork needed to carry out these actions?
I do not want to take up too much more of your time.
Your advice and assistance was very helpful.
We'll take all the time that we need to get you a useful answer.
You can just call it an agreement. Any attorney that practices family law should be able to draft something for your signature and the court's to make it an order.
Perfect. I will get on top of this ASAP.
So, you might say "my ex and I have agreed to lower my support obligation in exchange for a lump sum payment. I would like to hire you to draft an agreement that can be submitted for the court's signature". Or something like that.
Yes, that is exactly what I will do. Again, I appreciate your time, honestly and help. Your assistance has been of great value.
Very concise, reflective and responsive assistance. Thank you