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What Is Retroactive Child Support?

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What Does Retroactive Child Support Mean in PA?  

Child support is a legal responsibility that guarantees the financial welfare of a child following the separation or divorce of their parents. However, there are instances where a parent may need to claim child support payments for past periods. 

Retroactive child support refers to the payment that a noncustodial parent owes for the period between when the couple separated and when the court issued a child support order. It is also known as "back child support" or "arrears." It can be claimed if a parent has been providing financial support without a formal agreement or court order in place. 

When & How Can Retroactive Child Support Be Claimed? 

In Pennsylvania, retroactive child support can be claimed under certain circumstances. For instance, if a parent has been providing sole financial support for the child without any contribution from the other parent, they may be eligible to file a claim for retroactive child support. 

To claim retroactive child support, a parent must file a petition with the court detailing the amount of support provided and the duration for which they seek reimbursement. They must also provide evidence of expenses incurred during this period, such as bills, receipts, and bank statements. 

Why Consider Retroactive Child Support? 

Retroactive child support is essential because it ensures that both parents share the financial responsibility for their child, even for past periods. It compensates the custodial parent for the expenses they incurred while providing for the child alone. It also reinforces the principle that both parents should contribute to their child's upbringing. 

Who Can Claim Retroactive Child Support? 

As we mentioned, any parent who has been bearing the financial responsibility for a child without receiving any assistance from the other parent can claim retroactive child support. The parent seeking retroactive child support must demonstrate that the other parent had an obligation to contribute to the child's expenses but failed to do so. 

The filing parent must prove that the other parent was aware of their financial obligations but neglected them. Second, they must demonstrate that they bore the financial burden alone.  

For instance, consider a scenario where a couple separates in January, but the custodial parent does not file for child support until July. During this six-month period, the custodial parent has been solely responsible for all child-related expenses, such as food, clothing, school fees, and medical costs.  

Despite making several informal requests, the noncustodial parent has not contributed towards these expenses. In this case, once the child support order is issued, the custodial parent can file a retroactive child support claim to recover the costs they solely bore for the previous six months. This claim would need to be supported by evidence of these expenses, such as receipts or bank statements. 

Can Retroactive Support Be Waived?  

Yes, if both parties can come to an agreement to waive the full or a partial amount of the retroactive support, the court can waive the retroactive support. However, the court does not initiate waivers.  

Wondering if you can claim retroactive child support? Call (215) 515-9901 to discuss your child support case with the legal team at William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys.