Retroactive child support is also known as back child support. Generally, when a custodial parent files for a child support proceeding, the court will award child support for future expenses and not for back child supported owed.
In Washington, the court generally disfavors awarding back child support, but will do so if paternity was at issue and if there was a lapse in modification of a child support order.
Paternity Is at Issue
The Washington court system is more likely to award back child support when the parents are not married and paternity is at issue. To obtain back child support, the mother must file a paternity action against the alleged father.
Once the paternity is proven, then the father will only have to pay retroactive child support for up to five years. This child support amount is for past child birth and child raising expenses. If the father has contributed to some of those expenses prior to the paternity action, then the father will not owe the full amount. The court will most likely require evidence of any monies previously paid.
Lapse in Modification of Past Child Support Order
Another way to get back child support is where there was a lapse in modification of an child support order. This happens when there is already an existing child support order with a date for modification. When the modification date passes and when the custodial parent files for a modification, then the non-custodial parent may owe retroactive child support from the modification date of the initial child support order.
For example, two parents have a court order child support agreement with a modification date of May 2014 and neither of the parents took any action until February 2015. The court finally modifies the court order is March 2015 and does award retroactive child support. As a result, the non-custodial parent must pay retroactive child support difference from initial modification date of May 2014 to the final modification date of March 2015.
Consulting an Attorney
You should consult a family law attorney if you are involved in a child support proceeding. An attorney will help you determine the fair amount of child support payment owed to your child. Otherwise, without proper representation, these child support proceedings may be a costly financial battle between the parents without having your child's best interest in mind.