How to handle “retroactive” support

Retroactive support is support that goes “backwards” in time.  This support serves as a reimbursement for past months when support was not yet ordered or paid.  Retroactive support is mandatory in certain situations, and discretionary in other situations.  Retroactive support can apply to child support, maintenance, out of pocket medical expenses, daycare expenses, and more.

Retroactive support is generally available to parties retroactively back to the date that they filed a motion requesting support.  The exception to this is in parentage actions where there has never been an adjudication of parentage/support prior.  However, the general rule on retroactive support is that it can only be awarded back to the date a petition was filed requesting support or modification of support.  That goes for retroactive modifications of support downwards, as well as upwards.

When retroactive support is discretionary, Judges will often look at what support was paid voluntarily during the period in question where retroactive support is sought.  The court is usually interested in whether or not the parties lived in the same household and whether or not support was provided during that time, either directly or indirectly, the financial circumstances of both parties during the time period in question and the employment of the parties during the time period in question.  Judges try to be fair when awarding retroactive support.  So, if two parties lived under the same roof, earned the same amount of money and split all of the minor child’s bills that may be a scenario where retroactive support is denied.  It completely depends upon the circumstances of the case.

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