Retroactive child support can make custody issues feel overwhelming. Parents understand that figuring out support payments and ensuring their child is taken care of is extremely important. Unfortunately, getting both on the same page is not always that easy.
This is especially true when one parent decides they will not pay the necessary child support anymore, for whatever reason.
This situation may seem impossible to fix, but the process does not need to be as challenging as you may think.
This guide will discuss everything you need to know about retroactive child support, whether you are eligible to receive it, and how an experienced divorce attorney can get you the help you need.
What is Child Support?
In Virginia, both parents need to support their children — whether they are still married or not. In general, child support is determined by the application of child support guidelines, which consists of a formula that takes into account certain factors, including:
- Gross income of both parents
- Any support paid by either parent for children from another relationship
- Cost of health insurance for a child
- Daycare expenses
The court considers these factors to ensure the child will benefit from what the parents could have provided as a single household.
The state holds each parent responsible for covering a specific percentage of the whole child support amount, but that does not mean both parents have to exchange checks every month. Here’s a quick look at some child support facts:
- In general, child support is the amount of money that a noncustodial parent pays to the custodial parent to help support the child when the parents are living separately.
- This arrangement plays out this way because the law assumes that the custodial parent covers many of the costs involved with caring for the child.
- Parents may choose to come to an agreement outside of court for agreed-upon amounts of child support.
If they cannot or choose not to do so, the court can issue an order for child support, or the Department of Social Services in Virginia can issue such an order.
Defining Retroactive Child Support and Eligibility
When a noncustodial parent has not made their required child support payments, they are considered to be in arrears on said payments. Depending on the situation, a judge may order the noncustodial parent to pay retroactive support. Here’s what you need to know:
- According to the Virginia Code, the court can also award retroactive child support from the date the petition was filed until a child support order is entered by the court.
- This means that even if you and your ex-spouse have been separated for a significant amount of time, the judge can only award retroactive child support from the date the action was filed in court.
Usually, child support payments are paid by the noncustodial parent or the parent who no longer has custody. To determine how much a noncustodial parent would have to pay in retroactive child support, the court will consider the following:
- Can the custodial parent document a financial need for retroactive child support?
- Is the noncustodial parent attempting to evade child support payments by taking steps such as delaying the child support hearing?
- Is the noncustodial parent hiding assets or cash to avoid paying their fair share of child support?
If you have experienced any of these situations, you may be entitled to retroactive child support payments. Speaking with a divorce attorney can help you understand your legal options, determine your eligibility, and pursue the legal actions required to go after the compensation you and your child deserve.
How to Petition for Retroactive Child Support
Similar to child support payments, a custodial parent and a noncustodial parent may voluntarily agree to a retroactive child support payment schedule. If the noncustodial parent does not follow this agreement, however, then the custodial parent can go through the following process:
- Fill out the Child Support Enforcement Services Form.
This can provide them with the child support services they need. When filling out these forms, the custodial parent will need to provide information about the situation, children, and parents, as well as specifics about the previous child support arrangement. Once complete, the custodial parent will need to fax or mail the forms to the District Office that serves their locality.
- Wait for a response from DCSE.
Once the local Division of Child Support Enforcement Agency (DCSE) receives the forms, it can provide legal assistance to establish, modify, or enforce a child support obligation. It is at the sole discretion of DCSE to make final decisions governing any legal action that can be taken on the case.
- Wait for a referral on the case if it is not successful.
If the DCSE administrative methods are unsuccessful, the DCSE can refer the case for court action.
- Take additional steps.
In addition, if the parties do not agree to an arrangement, the custodial parent can request a child support hearing. The claim needs to be supported by reliable evidence, however, like being able to show documents that the noncustodial parent hid assets.
In Virginia, the local child support enforcement agency can provide services regarding child support payment enforcement. Specifically, the DCSE can enforce a support order by:
- Placing liens on a parent’s personal property or real property
- Withholding income from wages, unemployment, workers’ compensation, Social Security, or veterans disability compensation
- Garnishing tax refunds
- Garnishing workers’ compensation benefits
- Withholding child support from paychecks
- Suspending driving, sporting, occupational, and recreational licenses
- Bench warrants for arrest
- Passport denials
- Filing contempt of court actions, which can result in jail time
Questions about Retroactive Child Support?
Wondering out if you are eligible for retroactive child support can be a tedious, frustrating, and stressful process. Our divorce attorneys could have the answers to your questions. We specialize in uncontested divorces and separation agreements but would be more than happy to ask any divorce-related questions you may have.
Contact Attorney David Grey today to speak with an experienced divorce attorney about any divorce or retroactive child support questions you have.