Retroactive Child Support

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What Is Retroactive Child Support?

Retroactive child support refers to child support payments that were missed or weren't paid in the past. Non-custodial parents often have a duty to pay child support. If a parent has failed to pay child support, the judge may order them to make up for the missed payments. 

Retroactive child support is similar to what is known as “child support arrearages.” With arrearages, the parent also must make up for payments they missed in the past. However, the retroactive refers to the time period before a permanent child support order was issued. Child support arrearages cover the time period after a permanent support order was issued.

When Is Retroactive Child Support Required?

First, the judge must determine whether the parent and child are eligible for this type of order. Retroactive payments may be awarded if:

How Is Retroactive Child Support Calculated?

Next, the court will make calculations to determine the amount of child support that must be paid. As in all child support and custody hearings, all determinations are made with the child’s best interest in mind, and not those of the parents. 

When calculating child support amounts, these factors will usually be considered:

Finally, one of the main issues that needs to be resolved is the period of time when payments were missed. As mentioned, the term retroactive usually only covers the time before a child support order was finalized. However, the time period can often go back as far as the date of the parent’s separation. 

How Can I Get My Child’s Parent to Pay Retroactive Child Support?

A parent who wishes to obtain retroactive child support would have to request for this specifically in court. It is not mandatory or required, and a discussion regarding it is usually not a part of most hearings. A request can be denied if the judge determines that there is no evidence in support of the claim.

What If They Refuse to Follow the Order?

As with all court orders, a retroactive child support order is enforceable by law. Failure to follow the terms of an order can have drastic consequences for a non-paying parent. 

Penalties for not paying child support can include possible criminal charges (such as contempt of court). This can result in a fine and/or a possible jail sentence. Failing to make the payments can also result in a loss of privileges, such as visitation and custody rights. 

Finally, it is possible for the non-paying parent to be sued in a civil court, especially if it can be proven that the failure to pay had caused the child serious harm or loss.

Should I Contact a Lawyer for Help with Retroactive Child Support Payments?

If you have any issues regarding child support, a family lawyer can be of much assistance to you. Child support laws can be complex, and they may be very different from state to state. An experienced attorney can help you file the necessary forms and documents in court to support your claim. 

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Last Modified: 02-11-2016 10:21 AM PST

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