Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Don’t Wait to Handle Child Support Cases

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Family Law in General » Don’t Wait to Handle Child Support Cases

When it comes to Child Support, handling the case as soon as possible is almost always the best course of action.  That is true for the parent who is receiving child support, and for the parent who is paying child support.

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For the parent Receiving child support

Often child support is first sought sometime after a child is born, or after a couple cease to live together.  Other times, previously established child support was cancelled after the parents resumed living together, but circumstances changed and the parents again ceased to live together.  Regardless of the details, moving quickly to setup child support is important.

Generally speaking, child support does not accrue until it is requested.  There are exceptions to to this rule that allow a court to order child support retroactively, but there are limits to the legal authority for courts to do so.  That is because of the idea that it is unfair for a person to be surprised with a large back child support amount long after the fact.  Indeed, even in cases where the court chooses to award retroactive child support, judges often limit the amount of retroactive support out of a desire to avoid unfairness to the parent who is ordered to pay child support.  That means that a parent who is caring for a child is well advised to quickly proceed with a child support case, rather than waiting.

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In cases where the income of the parent paying child support increases, it is also wise for the parent receiving child support to act promptly.  The increase in income on the part of the parent paying child support can be a basis to increase child support, but the court is generally only able to do so from the time of the modification request.  That means that a parent who delays in requesting an increase in child support can end up losing a great deal of child support.

The same reasoning applies to child support in situations where there was previously child support that was suspended or cancelled due to the parents resuming cohabitation.

For the parent Paying child support

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A parent who is paying child support is also well advised to promptly seek a modification of child support as soon as there is a reason for a modification.  For example if a parent was employed and had child support established, but then lost their job or had to take a lower-paying job, there may be a basis to modify child support.

However, until the right steps are taken to formally seek a modification, child support continues to be due at the high amount that was set based upon the previous income.  It is generally not possible to retroactively modify child support prior to the date of seeking a modification.  That means that a parent whose income is greatly reduced can end up owing thousands of dollars in extra child support if they do not swiftly act to have child support adjusted.

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