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Legal Information: North Carolina

Child Support

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Updated: 
October 13, 2020

Can I get a retroactive child support order?

“Retroactive support” refers to child support for a period of time before the child support action/petition was filed. In some cases, a judge may order that a non-custodial parent pay retroactive support. The amount of support can be based on either:

  • how much the non-custodial parent would have been required to pay under the child support guidelines at the time; or
  • the non-custodial parent’s “fair share” of the actual money spent for the child’s care during that period of time.1

Retroactive support may be paid to either the state or the custodial parent, depending on the situation.

Retroactive support is owed to the State if a parent has a legal duty to support the child while the custodial parent was receiving public assistance (benefits) for the child.2 In a sense, the child support payment is reimbursing the State for the money spent providing public assistance.

Retroactive support may also be owed directly to the custodial parent (the parent with whom the child primarily lived during the time period).

1 See the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines
2 NCGS § 50-13.4(a), (b), (c)