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