Reduce My Arrears

How can I reduce the amount of arrears I owe?

COAP is a program for eligible noncustodial parents (NCPs) to reduce the past-due child support they owe to the government. This debt, called arrears, is owed to the government because the state supported the family while the dependent children in a child support case were on public assistance (CalWORKS) or in foster care.

What is the Compromise of Arrears Program?

The Compromise of Arrears Program (COAP) allows for a parent to pay less than the total arrears owed to the State. If you qualify for COAP, you will be able to offer a compromise repayment to the state. In other words, you may offer to pay 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.

A computer program helps determine the amount of repayment required and how much of the debt will be reduced. 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. It must also be in the best interest of the state.

What COAP Doesn't Do:

  • Forgive the entire debt
  • Change monthly child support obligations
  • Compromise arrears owed to the Custodial Party
  • Compromise spousal support arrears

COAP Qualifications are the following:

  • You must owe the government arrears of at least $501.00
  • You must complete the necessary application forms and provide supporting documents
  • You have not stopped paying child support in anticipation of this program
  • You do not misrepresent or conceal income and/or assets
  • You cannot have a conviction or finding of Contempt in the last six months
  • You must have the ability to pay the arrears owed to the custodial party prior to the compromise
  • You must pay your current support orders
  • You must be able to make your COAP payments as agreed
  • You have not had an agreement denied in the last year
  • You have not had an agreement rescinded in the last two years

Some Rules:

  • Don’t stop paying on current child support because you are applying for COAP.
    This is grounds for a denial of your application, and disqualifies you to reapply for COAP for one year.
  • You must provide complete information and documents with your application.
    Your application cannot be finalized for an agreement until you have done this.
  • Be honest on your application.
    If you do not tell the truth on your application, or if you hide income or assets, your application will be denied and you will be ineligible to reapply for COAP for one year.
  • 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 what was compromised to the state again. This is called a rescission. If your agreement is rescinded you will be unable to reapply for COAP for two years.
  • Pay your current child support orders.
    If you miss any current child support payments your agreement will be rescinded. 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 rescinded you will be unable to reapply for COAP for two years.

Parents who are interested in the Compromise of Arrears Program (COAP) can call your case worker at 1 (866) 901-3212 or visit

San Joaquin County
Department of Child Support Services
826 North California Street
Stockton, California 95202

For more information regarding this program please visit the California Department of Child Support Services website.