I understand that in the state of Washington there is a statue of limitations of 10 years after the date of emancipation on the collection of past due child support. My question is how is the statue of limitations invoked? Is there paperwork for a motion that needs to be filed, or is it automatic? Thank you.
A statute of limitations is automatic. It means that after a specific period of time after an event occurs, a person cannot be successfully sued or prosecuted for a particular issue. If a lawsuit is filed, the person against whom it is being filed can include the statute of limitations as a defense. Depending on the situation, how the time is “tolled” can make the time of a statute of limitations less than clear-cut. For example, some states don’t consider a child emancipated for child support purposes until she completes high school. So if the child doesn’t complete high school until she’s 20, then the ten-year statute of limitations would not apply until she is 30 (rather than 28). Other states allow a child support order to be effective while the child is enrolled in college, which means this statute of limitations may only take effect when the child is as old as 35. Furthermore, theses statutes of limitations usually don’t apply to state agencies that try to collect reimbursements for aid received by the custodial parent on behalf of the child (i.e. food stamps, childcare assistance, medical care for the child, etc.). If you are facing an attempt to collect on past due child support, or if you are attempting to collect it, you should consult a local family law attorney who can give you the best advice given your particular circumstances.