Debt Reduction Program (COAP)

The “Compromise of Arrears” Debt Reduction Program

The “Compromise of Arrears Program” or COAP (pronounced “cope”) is a program for eligible parents with past-due child support payments  to reduce the amount they owe to the government. This debt, called “arrears”, is owed to the government if your dependent children received public assistance (welfare) or were in foster care while you were not paying court-ordered child support. Those programs are paid for by the state using taxpayer dollars, and federal and state law require that you reimburse the state for supporting your children during that time.

If you qualify, you will be able to offer a “compromise” repayment to the state. In other words, you may offer to reduce the debt by paying an amount that is less than the full amount you owe. Any reduction in your arrears and interest owed will be based on your income and assets.

Each person’s child support case, or cases, is different. Arrears may be paid off all at once in a lump sum, or over time in a payment plan, depending upon the details of your case.

Any compromise agreement must take into consideration the needs of the children named in the child support order and the parent’s ability to pay. 

What COAP Won’t Do:

  • Forgive the entire debt.
  • Change monthly child support obligations.
  • Reduce unpaid child support that is owed directly to the person receiving support – you can only reduce the amount you owe the taxpayers. If your children never received public assistance or were never in foster care, you are not eligible for COAP.
  • Reduce spousal support arrears.

Some Rules:

  • Don’t stop paying your child support because you are applying for COAP. This is grounds for a denial of your application, and you won’t be able to apply for COAP again for one year.
  • Provide complete information and documents with your application.  Your application cannot be considered until you have done this.
  • Be honest. If you do not tell the truth on your application, or if you hide income or assets, your application will be denied.
  • Make your COAP payments as agreed. If you do not make the payments after an agreement has been reached, your agreement will be canceled and you will owe the balance (unpaid amount) of the compromise amount to the state again.  If your agreement is canceled you won’t be able to apply again for COAP for two years.
  • Even if you are approved for COAP, keep paying your regular child support. If you miss any current child support payments your agreement will be canceled. You will owe the full amount of your pre-agreement arrears and will not receive a refund for any payments made. If your agreement is canceled you won’t be able to reapply for COAP for two years.

How to Apply:

Your local child support agency is there to help with this program, and will guide you throughout the application process. Call or visit your local agency and ask for an application and return by mail or in person.