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Retroactive child support and obtaining a fair payment

When you're requesting child support through the courts, it's normal for the court to order child support from the parent who isn't the primary custodian. When that happens, the parent should start paying child support each week or each month, depending on the format for your case.

If you've been struggling to obtain child support payments due to a parent's neglect or refusal to pay, then the court can order the parent to pay or garnish the parent's wages. At that point, the money should come out of the person's paycheck automatically and be given to the custodial parent for the care of the child. That takes care of current child support payments needed, but to get retroactive payments, more work needs to be taken in court.

When it's determined that retroactive support is needed, the judge for the court case can decide on how much support is needed to fulfill those retroactive support obligations. He or she has the final word on how much the parent will need to pay, but there are guidelines that are normally followed in these cases. How is retroactive support determined?

The fairest way to determine past-due child support is to look at how much child support would have been due if the court had been aware or able to collect the funds. Next, the parent's fair share of expenditures for the child can be calculated. Both of these tactics can work well to determine a final retroactive fee, but other factors, like the parent's ability to pay or the presence of an unincorporated separation agreement, can affect the final order.

Source: North Carolina Courts, "North Carolina Child Support Guidelines," accessed Dec. 08, 2015

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