California retroactive child support payment are child support payments for a period that the non-custodial parent did not pay any child support. This means that the court is seeking child support for a period before the order to pay was actually finalized. Retroactive child support payments are different than late or unpaid child support payments that were previously ordered by the court.

How Do I Seek Retroactive Child Support in California?

As of July 2017, a parent seeking retroactive child support must follow the following steps in order to collect retroactive child support payments:  

  1. Open a Child Support Case: The parent seeking past child support payments must open a child support case by completing an application with the local child support enforcement
  2. Locate a Parent: In order to obtain a court order for child support, the Child Support Services must be able to locate both parents.
  3. Establish a Court Order: In California, you must fill out a Form FL-300 to establish a court order to collect past due child support payments. You also have to fill out an Application to Determine Arrearages (Form FL-490), Declaration of Payment History (Form FL-420); Payment History Attachment (Form FL-421).
  4. Have your forms reviewed: Ask the court’s family law facilitator or your lawyer to review the forms
  5. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
  6. File your forms with the court clerk: One copy will be for the court and one for you. You may also have to pay a filing fee.
  7. Get your court date: The clerk will give you a court date and write it on your FL-300.
  8. Serve your forms on the other parent: Have someone other than yourself and over the age of 18 serve the other parent with the forms to give them notice.
  9. File your proof of service: File a Form FL-330 detailing when and how you served the other parent.
  10. Go to your court hearing: At the court hearing, the judge will hear the case and determine how much the other parent owes in back child support in addition to the interest charges applied and the regular monthly child support payments owed. 

Once the judge makes the order, you will get a new wage assignment with the child support amount plus installment payments of the child support payments you are owed. 

When is Retroactive Child Support Payments Required?

In California, retroactive child support payments are required if:

  • Judge determines that the parent and child are eligible to receive retroactive child support payments
  • The non-custodial parent had concealed assets and finances to avoid paying child support payments or a lower amount
  • The non-custodial parent acted in a way to delay the hearing and the payments were delayed as a result
  • The concludes that the payments must be backdated to a period that the non-custodial parent was not yet ordered to pay

Are There Any Restrictions on Collecting Retroactive Child Support in California?

There are significant limits on collecting retroactive child support in California. In most cases, retroactive child support will only be granted back to the date of service, which is the date the other parent was notified of the request. If the non-custodial parent was served 90 days or less after the petition was filed, assuming that they did not deliberately try to avoid or delay service.

If service takes longer than 90 days, through no fault of the person being served, child support payments will be calculated from the date of service, not the date of filing.

How Are Retroactive Child Support Payments Calculated?

The amount that the court orders for the payments to be backdated to could be to the date the notice was service or any subsequent date decided by the court. When calculating retroactive child support payment amounts, these factors are considered:

  • The needs and requirements of the child
  • The income of the non-custodial parent
  • The amount that was avoided by the non-custodial parent at the time the payments were ordered
  • The amount the non-custodial parent already has paid for child support
  • The date that the non-custodial parent could have been subject to payment

Also, the State of California allows interest to be charged for all missed child support payments at a rate of 10% per year. Interest accrues from the date it is due to the date of the court’s final judgment for the late payments. 

What Is The Difference Between Modification of Payments and Retroactive Child Support Payments?

In California, modifications of child support payments occurs when one parent or both parents petition the court to modify the existing amount of payments the court has already ordered. The difference between retroactive payments is that retroactive payments back-dates the payments to a period that the non-custodial parent was not ordered by the court to pay. Courts will not retroactively change the amount of support that was already owed.

Modifications deal with future payments while retroactive payments deal with payments that was before the actual child support payment the court ordered.

Learn more here: Modifying Child Support Payments

Do I Need Lawyer?

The issues surrounding child support in California can get pretty complicated. For that reason, you should not hesitate to contact an experienced child support lawyer if you are facing a retroactive child support petition, or believe you are entitled to retroactive child support. A California family law attorney can provided you more information if there is a legal basis for the claim.