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Understanding Retroactive Child Support vs. Arrears

When you share children with an ex, often, one parent is ordered or agrees to pay child support. While arrangements can vary, it’s important to comply with your court order to the letter. If you fail to pay child support, you can face serious penalties which if same is found willful, you can be incarcerated in jail. . Understanding the difference between retroactive child support and arrears will help you understand your payment obligations.

What is retroactive child support?

Retroactive child support, and state law varies on how many months the court can “reach back” for payment. If the court determines you owe retroactive child support, they’ll calculate the amount you should have paid for those months. As a general rule., you are entitled to support retroactive to the date a  petition for paternity is filed, the date an petition for support is filed or the date a divorce action is commenced and or the date an application for pendente lite child support is made.  You are often given time to repay the arrears which are usually up to 50% of the current obligation until paid in full. The Court’s may grant the payee a money judgment to secure the payments.,

What does it mean to be in arrears?

Arrears refers to owing back child support. If you fail to pay the full monthly amount on time, you are considered in arrears. This only starts adding up after you receive a court-ordered support amount.

In New York, if your arrears are secured by a money judgment, you will receive statutory interest on the arrears that are owe and due to you. , New York charges statutory interest at 9 percent per annum.  Once a parent is in arrears, the non-paying parent can seek legal enforcement through the court or state agencies.  This may include securing a judgment, garnishment or possible incarceration if your arrears are found to be willful. If a Court finds that you willfully violated an order, they will award the payee reasonable counsel fees.

For more information about child support, contact the skilled child custody and support attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP today.