It is often said by judges and lawyers alike, that child support is “the right of the child”. What this means, is that parents who agree to reduce child support payments to below normal amounts or to waive them altogether will not always have their decisions respected by the courts.
Even after agreements concerning child support have been reached, parents may go to court and claim that the amount paid in the past by the other parent was not enough, even though it was in accordance with an agreement. A parent my argue, for example, that after the agreement was signed, something changed which made agreement unfair. Likewise, a parent may fail to claim child support immediately from the other parent, but may wait several years before going to court. In both cases, the parent will likely claim retroactive child support, meaning child support for the years which have already passed.
While these arguments may succeed, they are no reason to wait to claim child support after it is due and has become retroactive child support. The longer you wait, the less likely a court is to order retroactive payments.
But beyond that, there is something else to be mindful of: retroactive child support must be claimed while the child is still a minor or a dependent. If the court finds that the child is an adult and is independently working and supporting his or her self, you will be forever barred from claiming retroactive support. A court would normally order a parent to pay support or to bare part of the expense for a child’s post-secondary degree while they were still a dependant. But children and parents alike may find out to their dismay that, now that the child has graduated with a degree and moved away from home, it is too late claim retroactive support.
What is the lesson to be learned? Claim child support as soon as possible. You will always be able to forgive unpaid arrears but a time will come when unclaimed child support is lost forever.