While child support can often be a central point of contention between former partners, the issue is not always addressed in court. In some cases, a parent may not know that support was needed. Other times, non-custodial parents may knowingly attempt to avoid their financial responsibilities. Many parents may believe that if a court order is not given, then they are not legally responsible for making support payments.
The truth is that if a court finds that a parent should have been making support payments but the issue was never formally considered in court, then that parent may be ordered to pay retroactive child support. The legal text pertaining to retroactive child support can be found online and is contained within the Texas Family Codes§ 154.009 and § 154.131.
Factors a court may consider when determining retroactive support include:
- If any previous attempt(s) had been made to inform the parent or to establish child support
- The current and past financial situation of the non-custodial parent
- If the non-custodial parent provided support to the child outside of a court order
- If it was likely that the non-custodial parent was aware of the need for support
Generally, Texas courts will look to set retroactive child support payments for a period dating back no more than four years. However, if it can be shown that the non-custodial parent (1) knew a legal obligation for the child existed and (2) knowingly worked to avoid the creation of a support order, a judge may award retroactive child support for a period longer than four years. Additional support may also be ordered in cases where a child has special needs.
Retroactive payments may also be in order when a previous, halted agreement should have been reactivated, but payments were not continued. For example, if support payments were halted due to a new marriage, but the marriage ended, reestablishing the need for child support. Here, the non-custodial parent’s legal obligation cannot be ordered for earlier than the date of separation or divorce. Every situation will contain unique factors and specific questions about your child support case should be directed to a knowledgeable attorney.
Do You Have Questions about Child Support?
In Texas, custodial parents must take legal action within four years of a child’s 18th birthday in order to seek retroactive support payments. If you are anticipating a dispute involving your family, do not hesitate to contact Phillip M. Herr, Attorney at Law. Our lead Flower Mound divorce attorney has more than a decade of experience and can help you to explore your legal options both in and out of the courtroom.
Call (469) 242-2211 or schedule an appointment online to speak to an attorney about your legal options.
Texas Family Code 154: