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Receiving Retroactive Child Support Payments

Posted on in Child Support

Receiving Retroactive Child Support PaymentsBoth legal parents have a financial obligation to support a child from the time it is born, even if one of the parents is not an active part of the child’s life. Child support is a common aspect of divorce but can be more difficult to establish when the parents were never married. A father can submit a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, or the mother may file a petition to establish paternity. In disputed paternity cases, the court can order the father to pay retroactive child support if it legally establishes his paternity. The retroactive payments could go back to the date of the initial court filing or the date of the child’s birth.

Reason for Retroactive Payments

Retroactive child support commonly starts on the date that the parent filed a petition to establish paternity or to establish child support. In most cases, the mother is the one who is attempting to force the father to take financial responsibility for their child, though a father could file a petition to establish child support from an absent mother. Illinois allows retroactive child support orders to prevent a parent from avoiding their financial obligation by prolonging the court case. A paternity case can take months to settle and can be extended with other legal actions, such as appeals.

How Far Back Can Payments Go?

Illinois law allows courts to extend retroactive child support payments to dates before a parent filed a petition. Courts have interpreted this as the authority to start the retroactive payments as earlier as the child’s birth. The law lists several factors that courts must consider when setting the start date for retroactive payments, including:

  • Whether the father knew of his paternity before the case;
  • Whether the father has previously been willing to help raise and support the child;
  • To what extent the mother attempted to inform the father of his paternity and responsibilities prior to filing a petition;
  • Why the mother delayed in filing a petition for child support; and
  • To what extent the father would be prejudiced if the court delayed bringing an action.

A court may be more lenient towards a father who could not have reasonably known that he was the father or who had been providing some financial support through an informal agreement.

Contact a St. Charles Family Law Attorney

As a single parent, you are entitled to retroactive child support if your co-parent has avoided their financial obligation to your child. A Kane County family law lawyer at Goostree Law Group can help you establish paternity and appropriate child support payments. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.


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