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Who is the obligor and who is the obligee?

UPDATED: February 20, 2013

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The obligor is the parent that is required to pay the child support to the other parent, and the obligee, or obliged, is the parent who receives the payment.

As a general rule, once a child support amount has accrued, the obligor is required to pay that amount, regardless of circumstances. For example, if the obligor is required to pay $500 each month, he or she will owe $1,500 if they do not seek modification and fail to make payments for three months. Even if the obligor loses their job, the $1,500 remains due and cannot be discharged in bankruptcy like other civil judgments. Falling behind on child support payments can lead to problems such as wage garnishment, loss of driver's licenses, and other problems. Therefore, it is important that an obligor parent pay what is owed, and make an effort to change child support amounts when there is a change in income of either parent.

If the obligor or obligee experience a change in financial status or income, either the obligor or the obligee may petition the court to change the amount of the monthly child support obligation. Many parents are frustrated by the term final orders, because they never seem to be final. This is true; each time an obligor gets a significant pay raise, they can be taken back to court by the obligee and ordered to pay a new child support amount based on their new income level. Similarly, if an obligor is laid off or experiences a salary cut, they can petition the court for a reduction in their child support obligation, leaving the obligee with a lower payment each month.

The same is true of the income for an obligee parent; if the obligee's income increases, the obligor parent may usually file a motion requesting that child support be recalculated. If the obligee's income decreases, such as by the loss of a job, the obligee may ask the court to increase child support to make up for the lost income.

If the obligor parent fails to pay child support as ordered by the court, the obligee may file a motion to enforce the obligor's child support obligation. Additionally, in some states, a child who has turned eighteen years of age may sue to recoup back child support from a delinquent parent. Child support arrearages are never removed from a parent's record. In fact, if an obligor fails to pay child support for a lifetime, the arrearage may be taken from any assets that may happen to be part of the estate of the obligor parent. In short, once child support is ordered, the obligor parent is unlikely to relieve themselves of the obligation even if the ex spouse doesn't press enforcement. 

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