Understanding Back Child Support Vs. Retroactive Child Support

27 October 2020
 Categories: , Blog


If minor children are involved, child support is likely to be ordered during a divorce. The amount and which parent pays depends on the income of the parents. The family courts view anything to do with children at a high priority level and that means orders are automatic and strictly enforced. In some cases, parents may encounter either retroactive or back child support issues. Read on to find out more about these two child support issues.

Retroactive Child Support Payments

This form of child support is meant to go back in time and make amends for child support payments that would have been paid if an order had been in place. From the moment of conception, both parents are financially responsible for the child but they may not realize it. Some mothers fail to inform the father of the presence of the child or to ask for support. The family court system can and will step in and order the father to pay for medical care and other pregnancy and birth costs for the child. In addition, some parents split up but don't address the child support issue until they sign the divorce agreement. Retroactive payments can cover the time period between separation and the final decree. It should be noted that the mother can ask for temporary child support during the separation and it is likely to be ordered, making retroactive payments unnecessary. The parents do not have to be married for child support to be ordered. If they are living together and then separate, child support should be ordered.

Back Child Support Payments

Just as it appears, this is when a parent is in arrears paying a child support obligation. Getting behind is a serious and even criminal matter in all states. The penalties can be harsh and far-reaching for the deadbeat parent who falls behind. Parents behind on child support should contact the enforcement agency and work with them to make things right. If something is not done, the owing parent might be arrested and subject to the following:

  1. Jail (though not common since a jailed parent may never be able to pay what they owe).
  2. Drivers' license suspension.
  3. Withholding of a tax refund.
  4. Garnishment of wages.
  5. Property liens.
  6. Loss of government aid (food stamps, Social Security, etc).

Both of the above child support issues should be taken seriously. Speak to a family law or divorce attorney for more information.