Suppose you have a large child support arrearage. You may be asking: Can back child support be dismissed? The answer, in some cases, is yes. In this post, I’ll describe how to get child support arrears dismissed.
See if the other parent will agree to dismissing the arrearage
If the other parent will agree to dismissing the arrearage, you may write up an agreement, and both of you can sign the agreement. Then, submit the agreement to the judge who has jurisdiction over the child support case. When the judge signs the agreement, the agreement will be a binding court order, and you will no longer owe the arrearage.
One way of working out agreements in child support cases is mediation. Mediation is a process where you and the other parent (and your attorneys, if you have them) go before a neutral third party called a mediator. The mediator is not like a judge, in that he may not order you to do anything. But a mediator can try to guide you toward a settlement. For more information on mediation read my earlier post here.
If the other parent will not agree to dismiss the arrearage, you’ll have to go to court
If the other parent does not agree to dismiss the child support arrearage, file a motion in court and ask a judge to dismiss the arrearage. Then, ask the judge to schedule a hearing date. At the hearing, you will be allowed to present evidence as to why the judge should dismiss the arrearage. The other parent will be allowed to present evidence as to why the judge should not dismiss the arrearage. You will be allowed to cross-examine the other parent, and the other parent will be allowed to cross-examine you. After hearing all the evidence, the judge will make a ruling as to whether to dismiss the arrearage.
Understand, though: dismissing child support arrearages is the exception, not the norm. Therefore, to get the judge to dismiss the arrearage, you will have to present a good faith reason as to why he should dismiss the arrearage. The judge is not likely to dismiss the arrearage just because you ask him to. You will have to show why the current arrearage is unjust. You may offer to work out a payment plan.
There are many reasons why you may be able to get a judge to dismiss a child support arrearage. I cannot list all of the reasons here, but, before going to court, you should make sure that you have a good reason to get the arrearage dismissed. To see some reasons to argue that an arrearage is unjust, read my post here.
If the judge won’t dismiss the arrearage, you may appeal
If the judge won’t dismiss the arrearage, you have the right to appeal your case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. (Of course, if the judge does dismiss the arrearage, the other parent will be able to appeal the dismissal.) Click here to learn how the appeals process works in Oklahoma.
Before you appeal to the state supreme court, keep in mind that your chances of winning may be slim. Under Oklahoma law, the supreme court is generally not supposed to overrule a lower court unless the lower court “abused its discretion.” “Abuse of discretion” usually means that the lower court made a clear error that was against the weight of the evidence. Generally, you have a high hurdle to overcome if you want to prove that the lower court abused its discretion.
Need help getting a child support arrearage dismissed? Consult a lawyer
In general, the process for getting a child support arrearage dismissed is too complicated for most people to accomplish without a lawyer. If you have worked out an agreement with the other parent, you’ll probably need a lawyer to write up the agreement so that it may be presented to a judge for signature. Or, if you want to file a motion in court to get the arrearage dismissed, a lawyer will probably have to draft and file this motion for you, and you will probably need a lawyer to represent you at your hearing. If you appeal, you will almost certainly need a lawyer; the appeals process is so complicated that very few nonlawyers are able to handle it themselves.
It may also be good to consult a lawyer to see if you should bring your case to court in the first place. As I said earlier, getting an arrearage reduced is the exception, not the norm. So, you may want to ask a lawyer if you have a reason that a judge will consider to be grounds for dismissing a child support arrearage. If you don’t have a good faith reason to get the arrearage dismissed, you’re wasting your time even going to court.
The Persaud Law Office has handled many child support cases, and we have been involved in a number of cases where a judge dismissed (or greatly reduced) an arrearage. If you want to discuss getting your child support arrearage dismissed, contact us today.