Will unpaid child support appear on my credit report?

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Question:

I am behind on my child support payments. Will this be reported to the credit reporting agencies?

Answer:

The law requires credit reporting agencies to include information about overdue child support in your credit report. Creditors and lenders may deny credit based on this information. In addition, sometimes creditors and lenders report the whereabouts of missing parents to child enforcement agencies.

Child support arrears remain on your credit report for up to seven years, unless you make a deal with the child support enforcement agency. An agency may agree not to report negative information to the credit reporting agencies if you pay some or all of the overdue support. But few child support enforcement agencies will agree to eliminate all negative information. Most will at least report that you were delinquent in the past.

Many states require child support enforce­ment agencies to notify you before reporting overdue child support information to the credit reporting agencies. Usually, the enforcement agency must give you a reasonable opportu­nity to dispute the information. Many states require agencies to report only over­due amounts exceeding $1,000. 

For more information on credit reporting agencies and what to do if the reported information is incorrect, see our Credit Repair area. To learn how parents and government agencies can collect child support arears, see our Enforcement of Child Support Obligations area.

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