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How far back can retroactive child support go?

Child support determinations are based on a variety of factors, including the incomes of the payor and the recipient. In Canada, if a payor's income rises, then the payor is responsible for increasing the amount of child support to reflect the change in income. However, in many cases, the payor is either unaware of or intentionally avoids this obligation. When this kind of situation occurs, the parent receiving child support can seek a retroactive award. Such a resolution can be achieved through litigation or mediation, though many parents find that mediation is a more cost-effective way of handling the issue.

The Supreme Court of Canada has addressed the matter of retroactive child support and how far back it can go. Retroactive child support can be awarded to cover at least three years prior, and payments for a longer span of time may be ordered if the payor is found to be blameworthy. For example, if a payor hid income or misled the recipient about the correct child support amount, then retroactive child support for more than three years may be ordered. In some cases, a parent who is ordered to pay a retroactive award may also be held liable for the recipient's portion of court costs.

To avoid conflicts over child support, parents should be aware of their financial disclosure obligations. In Alberta, the law requires that separated parents provide each other with annual financial disclosures.

Lawyers at Kirk Montoute LLP work with parents to resolve their child support disputes. For more on these matters, please see our article, "Retroactive Child Support: Payor Beware."

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