What’s the Difference Between Back Child Support and Retroactive Child Support?
If your ex is not paying child support, that is a real issue. Child support payments are meant to allow the custodial parent some financial support in the raising of a child. After all, raising a child is expensive as all can be. Clothes, food, shelter, entertainment, education, and medical needs all have to be paid for.
So when a judge orders that child support payments be made, it is a big deal. It means a chance to afford all of that stuff while still keeping up with bills, taxes, and other important financial obligations. Of course, child support payments are only helpful when your ex actually makes them.
When your ex doesn’t pay the court-ordered child support, the ex owes back child support. These are previously missed payments and the main focus of our discussion today. But before we continue moving forward with back child support, it is important to ensure we’re on the same page.
Your ex could also end up owing child support retroactively. In cases involving retroactive child support, a judge deems that child support payments should have previously begun, and so they deem that retroactive child support payments are necessary. These are different from back child support because your ex had not been required to pay child support during the retroactive period. They would only owe back child support if they failed to keep up with all the payments going forward from the date that the retroactive payments were awarded.
How Do You File for Back Child Support?
In order to file for back child support, paternity must have already been proven. This is also a requirement for being awarded child support, so chances are there is no issue. The idea is that we know without a doubt who the mother of a child is, but we require further evidence to prove a father. In situations where a couple is married at the time of the child’s birth, the paternity is assumed to be the husband. If the paternity has been challenged since the original awarding of child support, and it shows the assumed father is not actually the dad, this could cause issues when it comes to filing for back child support.
Assuming that everything is in order, that the only real issue is the unpaid child support, then filing for back child support is fairly straightforward. Arizona’s legal system is rather citizen-friendly, allowing you to file for any service whenever you like (so long as you meet any specific requirements).
The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) will have the required paperwork and can even offer assistance in filling it out.
It should also be noted that an attorney can help you in filing for back child support. But even more crucial, a family law attorney will be able to help you decide if filing for back child support is the best course of action or if there are other options available for you to get what you are owed.
What Are the Consequences of Not Paying Child Support?
The penalties for not paying child support can be quite severe. They range from inconvenient to incarceration. What happens in your case will depend on the specific circumstances of your situation, but the consequences of not paying child support could be any of the following:
- The employer of the non-paying parent may be contacted with an income withholding order. The employer would not have a duty to withhold child support payments from the non-paying parent’s paycheck.
- Depending on the circumstances, DCSS may even ask to have more money taken from each paycheck as a penalty.
- If more than $50 is owed, the DCSS can take the non-paying parent’s state tax refund.
- Bank accounts could be seized.
- Other property could be seized.
- The DCSS speaks with the credit bureau each month until the owed support is paid, which in turn makes it harder to get a loan.
- A lien could be placed on a property, thus messing with the selling of that property or the ability to use it as collateral.
- Lottery winnings of more than $600 could be seized.
- Licenses of all kinds (including driver’s license) could be suspended or barred from renewal until support is paid.
- The Courtcould hold the non-paying parent in contempt of court, which could result in time behind bars along with a fine.
- The DCSS may work with the federal government, which could see social security and retirement benefits affected.
- If the non-paying parent works with the federal government, 100% of the earnings could be taken and put towards the payment in arrears.
- Their passport could be denied.
What Happens to Back Child Support When the Child Turns 18?
Child support is only supposed to last until a child is 18 or graduation from high school, whichever is later. If the child has a disability which prevents the child from being self-sufficient, then child support may b extended beyond age 18.
Back child support is different, however. The owing payments were from when the child was still under the age of 18. Some people believe that all child support payments stop when a child becomes 18, but this only applies to future payments. If your ex hasn’t been paying child support, then you could still look to recover back child support even if the child has since become an adult. The arrears never go away.
When Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you are concerned about back child support payments in Arizona, then it isn’t a bad idea to reach out to an experienced family law attorney. They will be able to offer you tailored advice that applies to your situation, support you through any paperwork or challenges you may face, and help you to get the compensation that is owed to you.