California Family Law Attorney
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January 24, 2010
  Can CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS be made RETROACTIVE?
Posted By Thurman Arnold

Q. Can child support orders be made retroactive in a court proceeding?


A. Except when the county has paid benefits, or possibly where a third party has provided necessaries like food, shelter, or clothing for the benefit of a child living with you under certain circumstances, the earliest a support order can be made effective is the date any initial pleading is filed in a court proceeding. FC Section 4009.

However, if you were not served with the papers within 90 days of that initial filing, support can only be ordered retroactive to the date a motion seeking support was filed.

Most judges will order support retroactive to the first or the fifteenth day of the month. This means that if you file for support on April 2nd, your order may only go back to April 15 but if you filed March 27th, your order would become effective on April 1. You should time your filing to maximize retroactivity.

To the extent your partner has contributed monies to your support voluntarily before the order becomes effective, they will usually receive a credit off-set against the support award for the time period in question (i.e., if support commences April 1, they will not likely receive credits for payments made prior to that time). These payments do not need to be paid to you directly for the credit to apply, as where a mortgage or rent payment is made.

Author: TW Arnold

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January 24, 2010
  How long does a CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION continue?
Posted By Thurman Arnold

Q. How long does child support last?


A. At a minimum, by statute, the duty to support a child that is imposed by FC section 3900 continues as to an unmarried child until the age of 18 years or, if the child remains a full-time high school student and is not yet self-supporting, until age 19 or upon high school graduation, whichever first occurs. FC section 3901.

You will notice that California, unlike some states, does not provide for child support during college. Nonetheless, parents are free to agree, and in such cases courts can order, child support extending beyond age 19. This is something worth considering in any relatively healthy dissolution situation, and is often addressed in collaborative divorce. College expenses are otherwise not part of a child support award.

If an adult child of any age whatever is or becomes incapacitated from earning a living and is without sufficient means, the support duty continues equally as between the parents as long as that condition persists. FC section 3910. This means that the county may provide services to the adult child if the parents don't, and later seek reimbursement from the parents.

T.W. Arnold III


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