I have had an unofficial agreement with the other parent that payed me a small amount. The amount has not changed in over 10 years. Can I still establish child support and back child support, even though I had received some funds in the past?

A) Yes, you likely can still establish child support and potentially seek back child support even though you received some funds in the past. Here’s why:

  • Formal Order vs. Informal Agreement: An informal agreement lacks the legal enforcement power of a court-ordered child support arrangement. The amount you received might not reflect the true cost of raising your child based on current income and needs.
  • Child Support Guidelines: Courts use child support guidelines that consider both parents’ income and the child’s needs to determine a fair support amount. An informal agreement made 10 years ago likely wouldn’t reflect these factors.
  • Back Child Support: Many states allow you to seek back child support for a certain period in the past, even if there was an informal agreement. The specific timeframe will vary by state.

Here’s what to do next:

  • Contact a Family Law Attorney: A lawyer specializing in family law can advise you on the specifics of your situation in your state. They can help you understand your options for establishing a formal child support order and potentially recovering back child support.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • The Other Parent’s Perspective: The other parent might argue that the past payments, although informal, constitute fulfillment of their financial responsibility. Having a lawyer represent you can help navigate this potential dispute.
  • Documentation: If you have any documentation of the past informal payments (receipts, emails, etc.), it can be helpful for your lawyer.

It’s important to remember that laws related to child support can vary by state. Consulting with a family lawyer familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction is the best course of action to determine your eligibility for formal child support and potentially recover back child support.

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