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Retroactive Increases in Child Support

Child support agreement

Often, a client seeks to modify child support retroactively.  Income of the paying parent may have increased or income of the receiving parent may have decreased, either of which may warrant a review and modification of child support.  However, time may pass between when the change occurs and when either an agreement is reached as to the new child support amount or a judge decides and orders the amount.

A popular misconception in family law is that child support cannot be modified retroactively.  This is only half true. The prohibition against retroactive modification applies only to retroactive decreases.  But while the child support cannot be reduced retroactively, that does not apply to retroactive increases.  Case law, as articulated in Keegan v. Keegan and Butler v. Butler, allows for retroactive increases so that a child receives the amount of support they are entitled to as of the date they were entitled to receive it.

So, in the event the paying parent should have been paying more in child support, and is not, and it is later determined they should have been, a court can increase the child support starting with the date the change occurred.  In other words, child support can be increased retroactively.  If you need more information on this issue, please contact me at jllawrence@nmmlaw.com.