Delinquent child support payments may negatively affect your credit rating, as they can be reported to the credit bureaus as a delinquent debt. Just like any other obligation which you fail to pay in a timely manner, the credit bureaus will calculate late child support payments into your credit score, which will likely reduce your score significantly.
A single late payment can lower your credit rating by as much as 20-30 points or more, depending on many factors such as your performance on other accounts, your debt to credit ratio, etc. Habitually late payments or an outstanding delinquent balance will likely do even more damage to your credit score, which will likely make obtaining any type of loan more difficult. To learn more about credit, credit scoring, and credit reports, I encourage you to visit the Bills.com Credit Resources page.
How your child support payments will affect your credit rating will depend on how you are making the payments. If you are making your monthly child support payments directly to your child’s other parent, then a late payment will likely not appear on your credit report. However, if you are making your payments to a state child support agency or to a third-party child support collection firm, any delinquency in payments will likely be reported promptly to one or more of the three major U.S. consumer credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. In some states, the agency will give you 30 days to make the payment before reporting the information to the credit bureaus, while others do not give you this grace period.
You should keep in mind that failing to make your child support payments in a timely manner can result in much more serious consequences than damage to your credit rating. Depending on your state law, you could lose your driver’s license, have your wages garnished and bank accounts levied, or even receive jail time, in extreme cases. The federal government may also revoke your passport and deny other federal benefits. To avoid damage to your credit and the potential for these more serious consequences, as well as to meet your obligations as a parent, it is important that you pay your child support obligations in a timely manner.
If you are struggling to pay your court-ordered child support, you should communicate with your spouse or with the agency to which you are required to make the payments to try to work out alternative payment options. If your financial situation has changed, for example you lost your job, you can petition the court to modify your child support obligations on a temporary or permanent basis. I encourage you to consult with an attorney who specializes in domestic relations law if you need assistance in seeking a modification to your child support order. For more information about federal and state child support enforcement efforts, and for links to various programs that may be able to assist you if you are struggling with your child support payments, I encourage you to visit the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Web page Quick Start Information For Parents.
Child support is an important obligation which should come before many other expenses. However, if you are truly struggling to make your payments, there are various options available to assist you. I wish you the best of luck for the future, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.