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Can you collect child support retroactively?

Most in San Antonio may view establishing a child support obligation as a rather simple matter: you and your spouse choose to separate (or you choose to not marry your child’s other parent), and a reasonable amount of support is determined. Yet it is not always that simple. What if, as a single mother, you lost contact with the father of your child, only to later discover where he was living? Could you petition that he now be obliged to pay child support for the period of time that he was away?

Texas’ Family Code does allow for the awarding of retroactive child support, but only after certain factors have been carefully considered. Among these is whether or not the man ever knew that he was the father of your child, or if you ever made attempts to inform him of that fact. If neither if these scenarios were true, he may be able to successfully argue that he should not be required to support a child with whom he did not know he shared a relationship.

The court will also consider his current circumstances, including whether or not forcing him to pay retroactive child support would impose a financial hardship on his current family. If he or she has attempted to pay for some of your child’s necessities since being informed of his parentage, the court will take into account, as well.

Ultimately, the law states that it believes in the case of retroactive child support, an award equal to an amount no greater than what he would have paid over a four year period is reasonable. That presumption is disregarded, however, if it is discovered that he knew he was your child’s father, or he took previous steps to avoid having to pay any type of support. 

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