Will Paying Back Child Support Remove It from Your Credit Report?

Doctor examining child
Dear Experian,

About a month or more ago I paid a back child support account I owed. I am trying to purchase a vehicle and it still shows I owe this amount. How can I get this removed?


Dear RNF,

When you pay off a child support account appearing on your credit report, the creditor will automatically update the account to show it has been paid in full. However, sometimes it can take a month or two for that update to be reported to the credit reporting agencies and reflected on your credit reports.

How to Dispute a Child Support Account as Paid

Past-due child support is sometimes reported to Experian as an account on your credit report. If you or your lender obtained a recent copy of your Experian credit report and your child support account is still appearing with a past-due balance owed, you can dispute the information quickly and easily online at Experian's Dispute Center. You can also submit your dispute over the phone or by mail using the contact information provided on your credit report.

To dispute, simply select the account in question and provide an explanation stating that the debt has been paid in full and should be updated. You will also have the option to upload any documentation you may have that shows the account as paid.

You may also wish to directly contact the child support enforcement agency or the office reporting the account to make sure their records are updated to reflect that the account has been paid in full.

Paid Accounts Remain on Credit Report

Keep in mind that paying off a debt will not remove it from the credit report. An account that was delinquent prior to being paid in full will remain on the credit report for seven years from the original delinquency date.

Accounts closed in good standing remain on the credit report for 10 years from the date they are closed.

How Can I Improve My Scores Going Forward?

Payment history is the most important factor in your FICO® Scores . If you have a past-due account on your credit report, paying it off or bringing the account current is the first step to rehabilitating your credit scores, so you are already on the right track.

Going forward, the key to improving your credit scores will be to make sure all payments are made on time on all accounts. Although late payments remain on your credit reports for seven years, they'll typically affect your credit less as more time passes. You can help your credit recover as you continue to make on-time payments and manage your credit responsibly, despite past credit troubles.

The next most important factor is your credit utilization rate, which looks at your credit card balances relative to your credit card limits. Keeping your utilization rate as low as possible is good for credit scores. Experts recommend keeping your utilization rate below 30%, but below 10% is ideal. You can get a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus for free through AnnualCreditReport.com, which can help you keep tabs on your credit usage.

When you order your free credit score from Experian, it will come with a list of risk factors unique to your credit history. Reviewing these risk factors can help you gain even more insight into what changes you can make to help improve your credit scores going forward.

Experian also now offers a free tool called Experian Boost®ø that allows you to increase your score instantly by adding your on-time utility, cellphone and streaming service payments to your credit report.

Thanks for asking.

Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist