What are my rights regarding an overpayment of spousal support due to a clerical error?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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What are my rights regarding an overpayment of spousal support due to a clerical error?

As the obligee in a spousal support order, I recently received a letter from the State District Attorney’s Office, stating that a large sum of money was overcollected from the obligor. The obligor now has a credit balance and it will be used to offset future obligations of child support until the credit balance is exhausted. I was completely unaware and caught off guard by the notice. This clerical error that has spanned over a year and a half, will have a large negative impact on my monthly income and ability to care for my children.

Asked on July 24, 2019 under Family Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You don't have any rights, unfortunately. The obligor is NOT required to pay anything more than he was ordered to pay: if he overpaid, even by his or another person's mistake, he is entitled to the money back or, as here, a credit against future payments. And at the same time, the law is very clear that you have no right to keep more than you were actually entitled to. 
You write it will have a negative impact: but the law's response to that would be, "why"? You received more money than you were entitled to--more than you knew or should have known you were getting (since you would have had a copy of the order). You should have budgeted for the amount you were supposed to be paid, so the surplus should have put in a bank account or otherwise saved until it was determined what to do with it--i.e. you should not have spent the surplus. Therefore, in the law's eyes, you should have the overpayment available in savings and will suffer no negative effect...or if you do, it's  because you spent more than you should have spent, and that being the case, it is your fault if the overpayment negatively impacts you.

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