Retroactive And Back Child Support: Know The Difference

Child support can get ordered through a number of scenarios, but divorce is the most common one. Divorcing parents who have children under the age of 18 are bound to have this issue addressed in the divorce decree. While who has to pay the support and the amount ordered varies widely depending on a great number of factors, the courts place a high priority on the well-being of minor children, and child support is taken seriously in all cases. To learn more about two particular and oftentimes confusing aspects of child support, read on.

Retroactive Child Support

Knowing what to expect when it comes to child support is important, whether you are the provider or on the receiving end. In most cases, the parent who has physical custody of the child is the recipient, and the amount ordered is based on the state's median income and the income of both parents. In some instances, the family court judge will order the parent to pay retroactive child support. The need for this order is connected to at least two common situations:

1. There was a delay in the order for support: Parents are eligible for any number of forms of support and can benefit from orders as soon as the need exists. Some parents may not ask for support until the divorce is filed or it may not be ordered until the divorce is final. Make no mistake about it, the parent who needs it can and should ask for child support the moment the couple separates, but not all parents know this or take action in a timely manner. The judge may amend the ongoing child support order to cover the time period between the time of the separation and the beginning of the child support regular payments. There are no penalties for the parent who is ordered to pay since the support is only in force once signed by the judge, but the resulting financial strain on the provider can be considerable and, in some cases, unexpected.

2. Another common reason for ordering retroactive child support is for unmarried parents. A non-custodian parent may be ordered to not only pay for child support from the birth of the child to the present but may also be ordered to provide funds to pay medical expenses for the child and mother.

Back Child Support

While retroactive child support can be considered a relatively innocent issue, back child support could not be more different. Parents who fail to meet the court-ordered support payments are liable for any number of punishments and penalties. The courts can order deadbeat parents to jail in some cases. Other penalties for failing to pay child support include

  • Suspension of driving privileges
  • Wage garnishment
  • Liens on property
  • Loss of government support (Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, food stamps, etc)

Both of the above child support situations can mean serious financial outlays and ramifications, so speak to your divorce or family law attorney at a law firm like The VK Law Firm for more information.