Can DOR/CSE let me pay less past-due child support than I owe?

Produced by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Reviewed June 2013

The Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division (DOR/CSE) can only lower the amount you owe to the state. They will not lower past-due child support you owe the other parent. Some of your child support payments go to the state if your child gets public assistance.

DOR/CSE can do two things to lower the amount you owe the state. They can:

  1. agree you don’t owe the money or cannot pay the money, or
  2. decide that it is unfair to make you pay it.

DOR/CSE can make an agreement with you

You may be able to make a “settlement” with DOR/CSE for past-due child support.  DOR/CSE will not make a settlement with you about past-due child support you owe to the other parent.

The DOR/CSE can accept your settlement offer to pay back less than you owe to the state if it looks like

  • you may not be legally responsible for the past-due child support;
  • DOR/CSE may not be able to collect it; or
  • you have no present or future ability to pay all that you owe.

If you need to make a settlement offer, you must give the DOR/CSE

  1. an Offer in Settlement Application form that includes your sworn statements of the reasons why DOR/CSE should make a settlement with you, and
  2. a statement of your financial condition.

On the Offer in Settlement form, DOR/CSE uses the word “arrears.”  This is the same thing as past-due child support.

DOR/CSE encourages parents who need to make a settlement with DOR/CSE to call their caseworker. Ask for the Offer in Settlement Application form.

DOR/CSE provides interpreters for phone calls with caseworkers.

DOR/CSE can decide it is unfair to make you pay

This is called an “equitable adjustment.” DOR/CSE cannot change the amount you owe the custodial parent.

DOR/CSE can change the amount of past-due child support you owe the state if:

  • you owed the past-due child support while you were on public assistance yourself;
  • you owed the past-due child support when you were unemployed, in prison; or incapacitated;
  • you got back together with the other parent and your child lives with you, “reconciled;” or
  • your child lives with you.

If you need an equitable adjustment, you must give DOR/CSE

If you need to ask DOR/CSE to change the amount of past-due child support you owe, call your caseworker. Ask for the Request for Equitable Adjustment Application form.

DOR/CSE provides interpreters for phone calls with caseworkers.

For details see DOR/CSE regulations.

 

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