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Collecting unpaid child support from a tax refund

With the arrival of tax season comes the anticipation amongst many in Clarksville that extra money is coming their way in the form of refund. If you are like many of the clients that we here at Runyon and Runyon have worked with who are owed child support, your hope may be that your ex-spouse will use any refund he or she receives to repay his or her child support arrears. You may be pleased to learn that you can actually petition to have his or her return held in order to meet his or her obligation.

The government allows for tax refunds to be held through the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. Rather than being sent directly to your ex-spouse, his or her refund is sent to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, then sent on to your state’s child support agency, after which the funds will be sent to you. In order for your case to qualify for this program, it must meet certain criteria. These criteria (as shared by the Legal Information Institute of the Cornell University Law School), include:

  • Your having an active child support obligation issued by a judge in your state.
  • Your ex-spouse owing more than $150 in child support (if you are on any form of state assistance).
  • Your ex-spouse owing more than $500 in child support (if you are not receiving state assistance).

Typically, the entire amount that your ex-spouse owes will be withheld. The only exception is if he or she is remarried and files jointly with his or her new spouse. In that case, his or her new spouse can petition to recover his or her portion of the return.

More information on collecting unpaid child support can be found here on our site.