When a court orders a parent to pay child support, this is many times done as part of a divorce case. The parent required to pay support typically must begin paying it from the date the order is issued. However, there may be cases in which a custodial parent would ask for child support to be paid for a time period before the order was issued. Usually, these cases involve unmarried parents, although sometimes, a spouse that was at one time married to the other parent may ask for retroactive child support as well.
Retroactive Child Support for Married Parents
Married parents cannot ask for retroactive child support dating as far back as the child’s birth. The law assumes that during the marriage, both parents were contributing to the support of the child, and as such, child support is not owed for that time. However, there are instances in which a spouse may still ask for retroactive child support as part of a divorce. This may address the period of time before the child support order is issued. In this case, the parent receiving the support for the child can ask for retroactive child support from the date a petition for child support was filed with the court.
For example, a father may be served divorce papers on February 1. On May 1, the mother may file a petition for child support. After being awarded child support on July 1, she may ask for retroactive support. This would provide support for the two months between the motion and the hearing. A judge has discretion at this point as to whether to award retroactive support or not....
If you are going through a divorce, you will likely come across a variety of procedural rules that you will have to follow and many different legal terms you may not have heard before. One of these terms is “guardian ad litem.” Many divorcing couples do not understand the role of a guardian ad litem (GAL) or why one may be appointed by the court. However, this person can play an important part in decisions about child custody, so you will want to be sure to understand how to proceed if a GAL has been appointed.
What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?
In some divorce cases, matters related to the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time may need to be addressed by the judge. When making decisions about these issues, the judge must take a number of factors into consideration, including the home life of both parents, the financial situation of each parent and ultimately, what is best for the child.
While this information is all very important for a judge to have, he or she will be unable to perform extensive interviews with the parents, the child or other relevant parties, such as teachers, doctors, family members and counselors. To gather the required information, a judge may appoint a guardian ad litem who will investigate the case and report the findings to the judge. The GAL will typically prepare a written report, and each parent’s attorney may cross-examine the GAL in court. The judge is not bound by the recommendations made by the guardian ad litem, but he or she will usually take the report into great consideration when making decisions....
Deciding to marry should be a happy time for a couple — a time filled with celebration and joy, not thoughts of possible separation and divorce. A happy marriage inherently requires both parties to enter into the union voluntarily and freely. This dynamic is supported by age requirements that the law places on the ability of a couple to get married — the minimum age being 18 — without parental consent. However, even with this rule, not all marriages last and a significant percentage end their union at some point. Divorce is one option to which most couples instinctively turn when contemplating severing their marriage; however, annulment is an alternative some could consider.
Studies show that the younger a person marries, particularly prior to age 20, the more likely he or she will get divorced. Delaware, in an effort to eliminate the possibility of child marriage, is on the cusp of becoming the first state in the country to ban this possibility by removing any exceptions to the minimum age requirements. When a couple marries at a very young age, a higher risk of the relationship ending results. Thus, could an annulment be an option?
Annulment vs. Divorce...
Dividing parental responsibilities is always a tricky proposition, as each parent is likely to believe he or she is best equipped to provide for his or her child’s physical needs and emotional support system. However, the reality in most homes is one parent is typically more involved in a child’s day-to-day needs and scheduling requirements.
When this factor aligned with the model used to allocate parenting time, a Court is more likely to give the bulk of the responsibilities to the parent who is more involved. This allows continuity for the child to be maintained. However, the situation often leaves the other parent feeling as though he or she has no real opportunity to have equal time with the child, or an ability to make a significant contribution to the child’s life.
Further, fathers are typically more affected by this tendency, which serves to reinforce the stereotype that single fathers have little desire to engage with their children on a meaningful basis. A Bill is currently under consideration in the Illinois legislature that would change the child custody model used by Courts so that both parents would start from the presumption of having equal time with their child....