Past Due Support Payments

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What is Past Due Support?

Past due support payments refers to support payments which haven’t been paid to the party they are owed.  This is in reference to various types of support, including child support and spousal support.  Past due support laws generally only refer to support arrangements that are enforceable under a court order, or that are valid as a legal contract. 

A common example of this is where child support payments are supposed to be made on a monthly basis.  If the parent misses their monthly payments, the amounts missed begin to accumulate, and the parent then may be said to owe past due support.  The payments are “past” the time when they are “due” to the other party. 

What is Retroactive Support?

Retroactive support is a term that is often used interchangeably with past due support.  Retroactive support may also refer to child support payments that were not paid in the past due.  However, these may specifically refer to payments that weren’t made because no formal court order was in existence regarding the support. 

In such cases, a court may still require the paying parent to make up for these payments, depending on the needs of the child and the capabilities of each party.  Also, retroactive child support may require some showing of fraud or deceit on the part of the paying parent, such as a concealment of assets to avoid making the payments. 

How Can I Obtain Past Due Support Payments?

The first thing is to ensure that you’ve been working with a court-approved support order.  If you are relying on an informal support order, it may carry less weight.  On the other hand, written agreements may operate like a contract and may be enforceable if they meet the elements for a valid contract.  You may need to present the contract to the court and have it converted to a formal support order.

If you are basing your claim on an existing support order issued by the court, you usually need to file a complaint with the court, and refer to the order as evidence.  Failure to obey a court order could result in legal consequences for the other party, in addition to them having to pay past due amounts. 

The court may choose to issue an injunction or other similar order requiring them to make up for the payments.  In serious cases, the court may order the party’s employer to garnish wages, which will be used for the payment of past due support amounts.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Past Due Support Payments?

Dealing with past due support payments can sometimes be a challenge.  You may wish to hire a qualified family law attorney if you need help collecting past due support payments.  Your lawyer can help explain your rights under current family laws, and will be able to represent you during court hearings and other proceedings. 

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Last Modified: 12-27-2012 12:21 PM PST

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