Orange County Child Support: What You Need to Know About Retroactive Child Support and Child Support Arrears

Going through a divorce can leave your life feeling like everything is up in the air, and you are continually waiting on some judgment to put things in order. This is especially relevant for parents who are also dealing with a child custody case during this time. Often these parents are not only worried about how they can provide for their children, but what can they do if the other parent decides not to contribute financially to their child’s well-being.

In this blog post, we will analyze some of these specific child custody issues that many parents face—examining what these parents can do about child support money owed to them and how an Orange County family law attorney can help them tackle these child support issues.

What are the Differences between Retroactive Child Support and Child Support Arrears?

Generally speaking, child support is the amount of money that a parent needs to pay after a divorce or separation. This amount is usually decided by court order and instructs a parent to pay a specific amount of money to help maintain the child’s lifestyle – their clothing, shelter, food, health, and medical care. However, what happens when a parent fails to make these necessary payments? Is the custodial parent permanently saddled with all of these expenses and essential costs?

Child Support Arrears

Child support arrears (post-judgment) occurs when there is unpaid child support that is already owed. This unpaid support referred to as an arrear usually results when a parent ordered to pay support has gotten behind. Several reasons can cause the parent to be unable to pay the required payments including conflicts with the other parent, not having the funds to pay, sudden illness, or moving to a different state and wrongly believing they are no longer required to make these child support payments. However, no matter what the situation is, support is still owed, and payments must be made. Choosing to ignore the arrears can leave you with garnished wages or your income tax payment refund being seized.

Retroactive Child Support

Retroactive child support (pre-judgment) occurs when there has been no prior child support order, and the judge rules that the child support payments need to be made from the previous time. This child support can be best described as “back pay” and basically is a way to reimburse the primary parent for their child-related expenses that were made before a child support agreement was in place.

What Steps are Required to Seek Retroactive Child Support in Orange County?

In Orange County, a parent looking for retroactive child support payments must specifically ask for these types of payments by completing the following steps:

  • Open a Case: The parent seeking retroactive child support payments must first open a case by applying with the local child support enforcement. One important aspect to recognize with this step is that to open a case, both parents need to be able to be located.
  • Establish Court Order: In California, you must complete and file Form FL-300 for the court to establish a court order to collect previous child support payments. It is imperative to have an attorney review your forms and make sure all the information is accurate and prepared adequately.
  • Serve Other Parent: You must next, legally serve the documents, containing the court date for the child support hearing on the other parent and then file proof of service with the court.
  • Appear in Court: Finally, you will present your case to the judge who will decide how much the non-custodial parent owes in retroactive child support.

Court-ordered retroactive child support payments are often for short periods of time between the filing of the marriage dissolution and the hearing of the child support order. However, in some situations, California allows for these retroactive child support payments to be ordered back to an original petition of divorce.

What are Some Restrictions on Collecting Retroactive Child Support in Orange County?

California has a three-year statute of limitations on retroactive child support orders. This means that if you are a parent seeking retroactive payments, you need to immediately contact an attorney to help you file your petition as quickly as possible.

In addition, retroactive child support will only be granted back to the date when the other parent was served. If the service takes longer than 90 days, child support payments will be calculated from the date of service, rather than the filing date, absent certain circumstances. That is why it is vital to have an attorney helping you through this process, ensuring that everything, including the service of process, is done correctly so that you will not lose out on much-needed child support.

How are Retroactive Child Support Payments Decided?

There are a few questions that a family court will consider when trying to calculate retroactive child support in California. They include the following:

  • What were the incomes of both parents during the period in question? (Not what their current revenues are.)
  • Did the non-custodial parent make any voluntary payments that were not court-ordered?
  • What are the expected costs to raise the child based on their specific needs?

Why Do I Need an Orange County Family Law Attorney Helping Me?

Child support orders can be very complicated for any parent. However, when back payments are involved, the whole situation may just seem overly daunting. If you are dealing with any child support issues, you do not have to fight this battle on your own. Instead, contact an experienced Orange County family law attorney, to provide you with the legal help you need.

With over 50 years of combined legal experience and countless clients, we know what you are going through. That is why we want to help you understand all of your child custody options and take care of all the necessary filings for you. Do not wait any longer; call Pedrick Law Group, APC, at 949-388-8682 to set up a consultation today.

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