New York courts often award retroactive child support payments to a custodial parents to cover expenses that the parent incurs while the divorce case is pending. Retroactive child support payments can provide the custodial parent additional funds for the children’s needs while the divorce is proceeding. Retroactive payments are not the actual court ordered child support payments that is applied by the court at a later date. The child support payments made is monitored by New York’s Office of Child Support and the payments can be paid in payments or a lump sum amount.

When Can I Collect Retroactive Child Support Payments In New York?

New York courts usually award a custodial parent retroactive child support payments once the divorce proceedings has begun and the parent has become responsible in paying for the child’s needs and day-to-day care. Once the divorce proceedings have begun, the non-custodial parent would be obligated to cover the months during the proceedings that the divorce was pending and the custodial parent was paying for the child’s needs.

Most states permit collecting child support back to the date when you first applied for child support, not just from the date your application is approved. New York provides two ways to collect retroactive child support:

  • A special award for money already spent in raising the child
  • A child support award that takes effect at a date before you applied

Can I Receive Retroactive Child Payments to The Birth of The Child?

Retroactive child support payments are backdated to the date that the custodial parent filed a request with the court or when the divorce proceedings began and custodial parent started spending on child’s day to day expenses. The retroactive payments are usually not backdated to the child’s birth. However, if the custodial parent was receiving social services, the New York County Department of Social Services may bring a claim against the noncustodial parent for retroactive child support payments to the date the child also became eligible for the services.

Also, if the child was born while the parents were not married, the custodial parent may bring a paternity proceeding in which the noncustodial father will be required to pay for the cost of the pregnancy, delivery, and recovery expenses made by the mother.

How Much Retroactive Child Support Payments Is The Non-Custodial Required To Pay?

Once the New York Family Law Courts calculate the amount of the retroactive child support payments that must be paid, the judge determines the best way that the non-custodial parent should pay the amount wit causing any financial hardship to either parent. The courts will usually require the non-custodial parent to pay an amount that the parent is financially able to pay without suffering hardship. A child support award becomes effective either from the date you first applied for child support, or from the date your children began receiving public assistance in New York.

When the court required a child support amount that is higher than the amount that was recommended by the New York Child Support Standards Act, then the court will issue a court order adding to the current retroactive amount payments being paid.

What Kinds of Expenses Can I Get a Special Award For?

A New York court can grant one parent a special child support award for all of the following:

  • Costs of pregnancy
  • Costs of birth
  • Funeral expenses if the child has died
  • Reimbursement for some or all of the actual cost of raising the child. This decision is based on the needs of the child and the ability of the other parent to pay.

Will Retroactive Child Support Reduce Future Payments?

Retroactive child support does not reduce future payments that are ordered later on by the court after the child support payment is decided and finalized – even if the court orders child support to be paid in installments instead of all at once. Reduction of court order payments may be reduced if the parent ordered to pay the child support payment files a petition to modify the amount ordered to pay.

What If Retroactive Child Support Payments Are Not Paid?

If the New York Courts decide that the non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent retroactive payments during the divorce proceedings to cover the child’s needs and expenses, but the non-custodial parent fails to make any payments, the custodial parent may ask the court to garnish the noncustodial parent’s wages.

New York Law holds the child support payments obligated to pay takes priority over any other debt that the parent has and failure to make the payments could result in contempt of court orders and the noncustodial parent pay face jail time for up to six months. Other possible penalties may be included such as reduction of tax refund, suspension of drivers license, bad credit reporting, denial of passport or other professional licenses.

Do I Need a Family Lawyer to Collect Retroactive Child Support?

If you are seeking to establish retroactive child support, it may be wise to speak with an experienced New York child support lawyer. Consulting with a family lawyer can help you understand your options and help you deal with the complicated legal system.

A qualified lawyer in New York can provide you more information if there is a legal basis for your case. For more localized legal information, please see these pages: