Am I Entitled to Unpaid Support For My Child?

Am I Entitled to Unpaid Support For My Child?

By: M. Scott Gordon

When a non-custodial parent fails to pay child support or has not been involved at all in a child’s life up to a certain point, the custodial parent may be entitled to unpaid child support payments. Generally speaking, retroactive child support is a term that typically comes up in two different situations in which a custodial parent is seeking previously unpaid support for a child.

In some situations, there is a child support order and the non-custodial parent has failed to make the required support payments. This situation is not technically what falls under the defined terminology of “retroactive” child support, but is referred to as a child support “arrears”.  If Court Ordered support is not paid, a Court will require that it be paid.  What if there was no court order for child support, but the non-custodial parent failed to provide support?  In certain circumstances, a custodial parent may seek “retroactive” support back to the child’s birth.

Factors to Consider for Obtaining Retroactive Child Support in Illinois

When can you receive retroactive child support? The first thing to understand is that “retroactive” child support can be collected in case between unmarried parents but not in a divorce under the divorce statute.  If you are custodial parent and were not married to the other parent, there are particular circumstances in which you may be awarded child support back to the child’s date of birth. There are no hard and fast rules for when a custodial parent can and cannot receive retroactive child support. Instead, the court will look at a number of different factors when determining whether to award retroactive child support. Those factors include the following:

  • Whether the father had prior knowledge of the facts and circumstances of the child’s birth;
  • Whether the father was previously willing to help raise or support the child, or previously refused to provide such support;
  • Whether the mother or public agency seeking retroactive child support previously informed the father about the child’s needs—and the extent to which that happened—or tried to seek the father’s help in financially supporting or otherwise raising the child;
  • Reasons for the mother’s (or the public agency’s) failure to previously file an action for child support; and
  • Whether the father would be prejudiced by this delay in bringing the action, and the extent of that prejudice.

We should note that the typical situation in which a parent seeks retroactive child support is one in which the mother of the child has been responsible for the child’s care, and the father has been the non-custodial parent for all intents and purposes. It is important to highlight this, given the assumptions in the language cited above.

Seeking retroactive child support can be a complicated and frustrating process, and it is important to have an experienced Chicago child support lawyer on your side. If you have questions about beginning the process of obtaining past-due child support, an advocate at our firm can help. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC today to learn more about our services.