Generally, when a parent with a child support obligation falls behind in support, the parent owed the support can seek to recover through a contempt proceeding in the family court or can use the resources of the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED). Sometimes, a parent cannot afford to pay current support obligations because of new financial realities. In those situations, the parent owing support must file a motion to modify in the family court.
Sometimes parents owing support simply let time pass and accrue a large debt, one that could subject them to criminal prosecution. When a parent fails to act quickly, can that parent still find a remedy through abatement? Abatement is a statutory creation, and it allows abatement where a parent has extended time sharing with a child where the child support obligation should be suspended or abated during the time that the noncustodial parent has the child for the extended period of time. This usually arises during the summer months.
To get an abatement, however, a parent must seek to get a court order allowing an abatement. Abatement isn’t a self help tool. Instead, the court must recognize and award the abatement. Contrast this abatement tool with equitable arguments as to why support shouldn’t be paid (ie: wrong doing of the custodial parent). They are two different tools. In this post our point is that many people who could reduce their support obligation often fail to consider abatement as a tool to help give them some financial relief.