Retroactive child support can arise where the paying parent has either under or overpaid child support.  A retroactive claim may mean the recipient parent didn’t receive the child support he or she could have used at the time to support the kids. Or, it could mean the payor was overpaying or accruing arrears on an income that no longer existed. On both sides, a retroactive payment can be costly.

The best way to prevent “retroactive” child support issues is to adjust child support every year, or if a big event takes place that changes income.

Tips to reduce retroactive child support problems

-exchange tax returns and income information annually

-read the tax returns

-look at the Federal Child Support Guidelines Federal Child Support Guidelines (

-deal with the change: should you be paying more support? It is generally okay to start paying more, even if your court order isn’t yet up to date. Keep track of what you pay!

-it is generally not recommended to unilaterally reduce or stop paying support: if you think your support should decrease, get into a process right away, or talk to a lawyer.

-Court Orders or Agreements can include methods to adjust support each year

-Alberta has the Dispute Resolution Office, designed to help parents adjust annual child support. It is free! Dispute Resolution Officer Program |

-Alberta has the Recalculation Program, also designed to have annual adjustments to child support without a court application Child Support Recalculation Program |

-if there is a sudden change (job loss, illness), inform the other parent and provide the documentation as soon as possible.

-Disclosure is the first step, but take the next steps to actually address what child support should be. A lengthy delay between the disclosure and formally seeking the change can also cause problems.

-Consult a lawyer, attend a DRO, consider mediation, arbitration, court, for example.

For more tips, see Reducing Child Support “Retroactively” or talk to Ceri or another of our lawyers to get information and advice.

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Written by Ceri Chwieros

Best Lawyer: Cheri Chwieros Recoginised: 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024