Retroactive Child Support

As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, timing can be very important.  Previously, we’ve discussed how the date of a divorce complaint can impact the duration of alimony.  Today, I’ll discuss how the date of a divorce complaint can impact retroactive child support.

The Massachusetts divorce statute does not provide for retroactive child support.  In other words, if you file and serve your divorce complaint in July, you are not going to be able to receive child support for time before that July.  The court may decide to give you child support retroactive to that July but not before.

There is a distinction for paternity cases—cases in which you have a common child/ren but were never married.  In a paternity matter, under 209C, you may be able to obtain retroactive child support prior to the filing and service of the divorce complaint.

Accordingly, it’s important to work with your attorney to strategize the timing of your divorce.  On the one hand, you might not want to initiate a divorce until you’re emotionally ready, but on the other hand you may also miss out on some child support if you wait too long.