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What You Need to Know About Retroactive Child Support in NJ

retroactive support

New Jersey courts can order a parent to pay child support to the child’s other parent. The payment obligation usually starts when the court’s order is issued. What happens when a parent was not paying their fair share or otherwise not taking responsibility for their children before a divorce or claim for child support is filed? Can a party ask for retroactive child support payments, back to when the child was born or when the paying parent otherwise abandoned their parental obligations?

Read on to learn about how retroactive child support operates under New Jersey family law. If you have any questions, or for help with a New Jersey family law matter, call an experienced New Jersey child support and parental rights attorney for help protecting your family.

What Is Retroactive Child Support?

Typically, child support is ordered prospectively, meaning that child support is a future obligation. The court orders the parent to pay child support from that day onward until an appropriate event brings an end to the parent’s support obligation. Retroactive child support, on the other hand, refers to circumstances under which the court orders a party to pay child support for a time before the other parent or the child filed the relevant divorce, paternity, or support action.

For example, consider a situation in which the spouses separated before filing for divorce. One parent maintained custody of the children during the separation period, and the other parent did not provide any financial support. The parties later file for divorce. The parent with whom the children lived and who paid for all of the children’s expenses asks the court to order the other spouse to repay them for the time they were separated. That would be considered “retroactive” child support.

Retroactive Child Support in New Jersey

In some states, a parent can seek retroactive child support from a time before paternity was determined, when the parties were separated, when one parent abandoned the family, or otherwise when one parent bore the brunt of the child-rearing and financial obligations. In New Jersey, however, retroactive child support is not permitted.

New Jersey law states that child support orders can only be prospective. A court can order child support going forward from the date on which the order goes into effect. The court cannot declare that the parent should have been paying support for their children for months or years before an interested party filed a claim for child support.

The only “exception” is that the court can order payments back to the date on which the family court action was filed. The court can order a parent to pay child support they would have owed from the date the divorce, paternity, or support action was filed, but no earlier.

Retroactive vs. Back Child Support

It’s important to distinguish “retroactive” child support from “back” child support. If a parent owes child support pursuant to a court order and fails to pay, they can be ordered to pay any back or overdue child support payments. The parent’s obligation goes back as far as when the other parent or child officially filed for child support. Overdue payments are not retroactive, and you can ask the court to enforce an existing order, including for back pay.

Call a Seasoned New Jersey Child Support Lawyer Today for Advice and Representation

If you’re dealing with child support issues or considering divorce in New Jersey, contact the skilled and successful Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation.

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