When a couple with children splits up, the noncustodial parent will often be required to pay child support. If that person neglects their payment responsibilities, the custodial parent can put in a request for back child support, which is sometimes called retroactive child support.

Retroactive child support is supposed to compensate a parent for expenses that they may have had to cover on their own since the other parent was not providing support. To obtain this compensation, the custodial parent will need to provide a list of expenses related to raising a child. They will also need to show that they attempted to collect support from the child’s other parent.

Back child support is not always granted. If the other noncustodial parent can show that they did provide some kind of support, such as paying for medical bills or buying clothing, they may only be obligated to start paying child support going forward. Further, if a parent can demonstrate that they will not be able to afford to pay retroactive child support, they may not be ordered to do so.

There are several methods available for setting up child support. When a couple with children divorces, child support will normally be arranged at that time. It can either be set by the parents coming to an agreement during a collaborative divorce or by a judge during a litigated divorce. In situations where a couple was never married, individuals may need to go through a state agency to obtain support. A lawyer could assist a parent through this process.