The attorneys at Frost & Beck, P.C., understand that being identified as the defendant in a paternity lawsuit can be both incredibly shocking and troubling for you. After all, being ordered to take a paternity test may be the very first time that you are introduced to the idea that you might be the father of a child. Immediately becoming financially responsible for that child can also be a major issue, especially in cases where you could owe retroactive child support payments.
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges explains that enforcing child support obligations is an important step in preventing childhood poverty, as well as juvenile delinquency and other issues. Still, family law courts generally recognize the importance of ensuring that child support payments are realistic and reasonable for noncustodial parents. It is for that reason that a judge may take several factors into consideration when determining whether and how your retroactive child support payments should be calculated.
One of the most important things that the judge may consider in your case is the reason why your child’s support order was not filed immediately upon his or her birth. If it is determined that you were aware of your parental obligations and intentionally avoided making child support payments, you may be held liable for past-due amounts. However, if you did not know about your child’s existence until just recently, the judge may not find it appropriate to enforce a retroactive order.
The judge may also consider how creating a retroactive child support order may affect your ability to make long-term payments. An excessive amount of retroactive child support, which could include everything from birthing expenses to late payment penalties to interest amounts, may be found to be neither reasonable or realistic for you to pay. Instead, the judge presiding over your case may decide that it is more appropriate to require some amount of retroactive child support by taking payments from other available sources of income like your tax refunds.
Of course, the necessity to enforce retroactive child support payments is established on a case-by-case basis. Learn more about paternity lawsuits and child-support judgments by visiting our web page.