Understanding Retroactive Child Support

What Is Retroactive Child Support?

In New York, retroactive child support refers to financial reimbursement a custodial parent may receive for child-rearing expenses incurred before a formal child support order is established. This helps ensure the child's needs are met even if there was a delay in filing for support.

There are limitations, however. Retroactive support does not offer the receiving parent support dated back to when the child was born. Instead, the paying party can be ordered to pay support retroactively from the date of the petition’s initial filing date or from the date that the children receiving the support began receiving public assistance (whichever comes first) [New York Consolidated Laws, Family Court Act § 449].

It is important to note that retroactive child support is not automatic. The court has discretion in determining whether or not to award it, considering factors like the reasons for the delay in filing and the non-custodial parent's ability to pay. If a parent wishes to receive retroactive support, they must also be sure to petition the court.

Distinction from Child Support Arrears

Child support arrears and retroactive support, though related, represent distinct concepts in the realm of child financial obligations. While retroactive support refers to a backdated financial responsibility, child support arrears arise when a parent ordered to pay child support fails to meet their court-mandated monthly payments. It's the unpaid balance that accumulates after a child support order is established. The longer these payments go unmet, the higher the arrears become.

The key distinction lies in the timing. Retroactive support addresses a gap before a formal order, while arrears accumulate after one exists. However, there's a potential overlap. If a court awards retroactive support and the obligated parent fails to pay the awarded amount, that can transform into child support arrears.

Criteria for Retroactivity

Not every parent will be eligible to claim retroactive child support in New York, as there are specific conditions that must be met. The primary criterion is that the custodial parent must demonstrate that the non-custodial parent failed to provide adequate financial support from the time of separation until the court order was put in place. Additionally, the court will consider factors such as the non-custodial parent's ability to pay, the child's needs, and any informal agreements made between the parents.

Get Legal Counsel

New York child support cases can be complex and emotionally charged. At Arnel Law Firm, our experienced family law attorneys understand the challenges these situations present. We offer comprehensive legal counsel to parents, guiding them through the process of establishing or modifying child support orders.

Our attorneys will work closely with you to understand your specific circumstances, including income, childcare expenses, and any existing custody agreements. We can also discuss the possibility of retroactive child support.

Known for our efficiency and thoroughness, we strive to resolve child support matters as swiftly and favorably as possible. We'll keep you informed throughout the process, answer your questions clearly, and advocate for your interests every step of the way.

Call (718) 550-3024 to discuss your case with a member of our team.