“I was divorced in 1985, and my wife maintained custody of the two children. I was ordered to pay $60 per week for child support. A few months after the divorce, she gave my son to me and told me to raise him, which I did. When he was about 14 I made an agreement with her to only pay $30 per week for support since I had one of the kids. Well now my kids are grown and Kentucky is after me for arrearages for the $30 per week I did not pay. What can I do?”
Unfortunately you have run into one of the biggest “gotchas” in family law, and perversely one of the least known. In many states, when a support-paying parent makes an arrangement with the other parent to reduce the amount of child support, if that agreement is not in writing and confirmed by the court, legally it’s as if you never made the agreement. The old amount of child support – the one which was ordered by the court – is the one which keeps accruing, meaning that, as you have discovered, you end up with arrearages even though you thought all along that you were doing what you were supposed to.
If during any of the time that you were paying the reduced amount, your ex wife received aid from the state, your chances of being able to get the arrearages reduced or forgiven are extremely small. And if your ex wife is now claiming that you owe her arrearages, your chances are also extremely small. However, if your ex wife is prepared to acknowledge that you had an agreement for the reduced amount, and if there is no money owed to the state, you may be able to get the arrearages reduced by working with the Kentucky child support enforcement office. You should have your attorney contact the Kentucky child support enforcement to find out what exactly, if anything, can be done.