Retroactive child support, also known as “prior maintenance,” is a child support request that is made prior to a lawsuit. Parents who request retroactive child support can be awarded child support from the time of their separation up until the date that a lawsuit is filed. Retroactive child support is usually pursued when one parent fails to their pay child support obligations or when a parent pays a grossly inadequate amount of child support before a lawsuit is filed.
Under the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, retroactive child support can be established in two ways:
- The first method is to determine the amount of support that would have been required if the guidelines were applied at the beginning of the time period for which support is being sought.
- The second method is based on the parent's fair share of actual expenses for the child's care.
How Do I File a Claim for Retroactive Child Support?
Parents who wish to seek retroactive child support will need to ask the court to apply the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines for the periods in which child support is being sought for. The parent must also present evidence of the child’s actual needs and expenses during that time period.
For parents seeking retroactive child support through application of the Guidelines, the court will determine the amount using a child support calculator. To make their decision, the court will use various indicators such as the parent’s gross income, insurance costs, and childcare costs. If a parent chooses to seek retroactive child support through an application of Guidelines, they will have the burden of showing all of the expenses incurred on behalf of the child, as well as the other parent’s ability to pay those expenses.
Which Filing Method Should I Use?
The method for which a parent should pursue retroactive child support varies from case to case. If you believe that your child’s needs exceed the amount of child support guaranteed by the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, then proving what your child’s actual needs and expenses are might allow you to obtain greater support for your child.
However, if you are concerned about the other parent’s ability to pay a greater amount, it might be in your best interest to pursue retroactive child support through application of the Guidelines. If you are unsure about which filing method to choose, you should consult with our Charlotte team of family law attorneys to weigh the pros and cons of each method.
Contact our retroactive child support lawyers to set up your consultation today.