Arrearages Law and Legal Definition

Arrearages refers to the deficiency between the amount, if any, paid and the amount required under court order. It is often used in the context of child support of alimony payments in domestic relations law. Child support payments can't be discharged in bankruptcy, and courts usually will not retroactively cancel them. A spouse or parent who has financial difficulties and is unable to make payments should request a temporary modification of the payments before the arrearages add up.

The Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, requires the district attorneys (D.A.) or state's attorneys of every state to help you collect child support in arrears. This may involve issuing a subpoena to have the non-paying ex-spouse meet with the D.A. to arrange a payment schedule, and if the ex-spouse refuses to meet or pay, he (or she) could go to jail. If the ex-spouse has moved out of state, legal procedures exist to locate your ex and seek payment. Federal and state parent locator services can also assist in locating missing parents.

Federal laws allow tax refunds to be diverted to enforce child support orders. Other methods of enforcement include wage attachments, seizing property, suspension of a business or occupational license. Some states also provide for revoking the payer's driver's license. If you and your ex live in different states, you may use the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) to enforce the child support order.