Child Support & the Government Shutdown

With the government shutdown now being the longest in history we are getting a lot of questions regarding the government shutdown and child support. There is a lot of talk about federal employees not being paid but very little mention of what happens to those dependent on those paychecks for survival, namely their children.

Is the federal government shutdown going to impact my child support?

The short answer is Maybe.

If the person paying child support is a federal worker, one of the over 800,000 who has not received a paycheck, then the person expecting to receive their child support payment will not receive it. Bottom line, if there is no money coming in from the paycheck then there will not be any money sent to anyone expecting a payment, in this case child support. Therefore, the parent paying isn’t get paid so the parent expecting to get their child support payment will also not receive it.

What if I need to pay child support but I am not being paid? Is there anything else I need to worry about?

The short answer is Maybe. 

If you fall behind on child support payments – which are mandated by either your order or the state – and the state is no longer able to collect your payment then you could be charged very hefty fines for lack of payment. The penalties for not paying child support can be as much as 10% compounded – which is much higher than most penalties you will ever see. 

What should I do if I am unable to pay child support because I am not getting paid?

Our first piece of advice is to contact your local child support services agency in the county where your child support is collected / order and explain your situation. Remember, child support is managed at the county / state level and not the federal level. This means the people who work for the child support agencies are still working (and still getting paid). Call or visit them and explain your situation. In most instances, case workers have been very understanding of the situation and have made sure that unpaid federal workers will not be charged additional fees due to lack of payment.

If I am the receiver of a child support payment, will I also get back pay in my payments if the other parents receives back paid owed to them?

The short answer. We don’t know.

Remember, we have never, in the history of our country, been in this situation so we don’t know how back pay will be handled. Looking at most state systems, child support payments are set dollar amounts based on a predetermined time frame (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly). Therefore, if your child support is a set amount and not based on a percentage of the paying parents paycheck, then chances are you will NOT receive the missed child support payments that you are owed. If your base payments are managed by the state, we suggest that you contact your local child support agency and ask them how your case specifically will be managed. Even if your base support is being managed by the state and they say you are unable to recoup the lost payments, you can still use a system like SupportPay to document the missed amount and send the request to the other parent, to document you are owed this amount once the parent starts receiving a paycheck.

We just hope this shutdown ends soon so that those that deserved to get paid are getting their paychecks and everyone else dependent on that money can forget about the uncertain times they are living in now!

Have you had a different experience or given different advice? If so, please add that information to our comments below.

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