Retroactive child support is the concept where a custodial parent can get child support payments from the non-custodial parent for the period of time where there was no court order for child support.

In essence, the custodial parent, who may not have told the other biological parent of the child’s existence prior to applying for child support, could attempt to get child support going back to when the child was born. However, under Pennsylvania law, it is not possible to obtain retroactive child support stretching back to the birth of the child unless there is a court order.

What Is the Retroactive Period?

In Pennsylvania, the non-custodial parent is only responsible for the retroactive child support payments from when the application for child support payment is filed. The non-custodial parent is not responsible for payments since the child was born or since the non-custodial parent separated from the custodial parent until the time that the application was filed.

For example, the custodial parent filed an application in January and the hearing is in March. If awarded child support payments, then the non-custodial parent is only responsible for child support starting from January.

Payment of Retroactive Child Support

Depending on the financial situation, retroactive child support must be either paid in full or spread over a few months. This will be written in the court order for child support with the specific details.

Waiver of Retroactive Payment

A waiver of retroactive payment is possible. Generally, a judge will not initiate any waiver independently. To obtain one, the non-custodial parent and custodial parent must come to a mutual agreement to waiver the entire amount or part of it. This normally happens when the non-custodial parent has contributed to the financial support of the child during the pendency of the application or if the non-custodial parent paid for all of the legal fees in the child support application process. The goal of this is to be fair and to have the child’s best interest.

Consulting an Attorney

Family law and child support issues are not always in black and white. If you are facing such problems, please consult a Pennsylvania child support attorney to help you determine what is fair to you and to your child.