Home > 2016 > Credit Score

Will Child Support Payments Affect My Credit?

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

As of a 2015 NPR report, more than $113 billion in child support debt was owed in the U.S. And that debt doesn’t just affect those who are waiting on child support checks.

Delinquent child support can get listed as a tradeline, or account on your credit report. It is reported to credit bureaus directly by the municipality or agency collecting the debt.

And, having unpaid child support on your record can have a “substantial, negative” affect on your credit score, according to an email from Rod Griffin, director of public education for credit bureau Experian.

These negative affects could lead to higher interest rates or being declined for a loan as long as the delinquent child support remains in your credit history, he said.

Payments Matter

In some states, even late or untimely child support payments can work against you as much as if you missed another financial payment, such as a mortgage, according to an email from a TransUnion spokesperson.

“When payments are made as required, the account will reflect on-time payments and potentially have a positive impact on the consumer’s credit report,” the TransUnion spokesperson said. “Late or missed payments would have a negative impact, just like late payments on a car loan or credit card bill.”

It is important to look at the specific rules and regulations in your state, as they vary by location. Some state laws only require child support obligations be reported when they hit a certain threshold, based on the amount owed or days late. The TransUnion spokesperson also noted that those delinquencies would have an adverse impact on a consumer’s credit report.

Delinquency Letters

If you receive a delinquency letter from a state agency, it’s a good idea to contact the agency as soon as possible. Some agencies have a short time limit on how long you have to respond to their letter before the delinquency is reported.

Attorney Andrew G. Vaughn, owner of NuVorce divorce firm and Domestic Relations law professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, recommended working out child support payments directly with your child’s other parent if possible, noting that rules are a little tighter if payments are made through a state agency.

“If your state allows direct pay to your [child’s other parent], you can usually avoid these credit problems even if you fall behind in payments,” Vaughn said. “It is unlikely your [child’s other parent] will report you.”

Get to Court Quickly

The reality is, most people fall behind in support because they’ve lost a job or their income was reduced. “If that happens, it’s important to get into court immediately to ask to reduce or pause the support obligation,” Vaughn explained. He said this is because each month a payment goes unpaid counts as a mini-judgment against you.

You may want to consider hiring an attorney to make sure this petition is filed correctly. If it isn’t, you may still be held responsible for payments until you file correctly, and any missed payments during this time can appear on your record.

Resolving Debts

If you do miss child support payments, but eventually catch up, this will be noted on your credit report.

“Once paid, the child support entry will be updated to show ‘satisfied’ and will remain on the [credit] report for 7 years from the original delinquency date,” Griffin said.

But it is possible that it will appear on your report for longer.

“The unique thing about child support is that, if unpaid, the child support judgement can be renewed each month, meaning the original delinquency date updates every month,” Griffin said. “If unpaid, the child support entry can remain until the child reaches the age of majority, which could be longer than 7 years.”

Monitor Your Credit

If you have outstanding child support and the other parent of your child(ren) sue for what is owed, and the judge rules in that parent’s favor, you’ll likely end up with a judgment on your credit report. Judgments can be very damaging to your credit. You’ll see a dip in your scores once the judgment is on your credit reports, but how much depends on factors like where you live and if you pay or settle the judgment.

You can see how unpaid child support or judgments may be affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com or pulling your free credit reports every 12 months on AnnualCreditReport.com.

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

Image: evgenyatamanenko

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team