Retroactive Reduction in Child Support Payments Is Not Allowed

In a recent case, a woman was guilty of lying on her financial statement and awards of alimony and support were made based upon those lies. Later, when the Judge found out about the lies, the Judge tried to correct the wrong by retroactively reducing the payments. The Supreme Court found that this was not allowable even though the previous support was based upon fraud!

Here is their discussion:

“In child support modification proceedings . . . the chancellor is accorded substantial discretion and is charged to consider all relevant facts and equities, to the end that a decree serving the best interests of the children may be fashioned. . . .” A.M.L. v. J.W.L., 98 So. 3d 1001, 1016 (Miss. 2012) (quoting Tedford v. Dempsey, 437 So. 2d 410, 417 (Miss. 1983)). Each time child support payments become payable, those payments vest in the 14 child. A.M.L., 98 So. 3d at 1017. Further, “[a]ny order for support of minor children . . . shall not be subject to a downward retroactive modification.” Miss. Code Ann. § 43-19-34(4) (Rev. 2009). If downward modification is warranted, reductions become effective on the date of the judgment ordering modification. A.M.L., 98 So. 3d at 1017 (citing Cumberland v. Cumberland, 564 So. 2d 839, 847 (Miss. 1990) (citations omitted)). ¶31. Therefore, the chancellor erred in allowing a retroactive downward modification to Stewart’s child-support obligation dating back to the August 2010 hearing. Thus, Stewart was required to continue $1,300-per-month payments until the judgment ordering modification was entered in February of 2011. See Cumberland, 564 So. 2d at 847; Thurman v. Thurman, 559 So. 2d 1014, 1016–1018 (Miss. 1990); Brand v. Brand, 482 So. 2d 236, 237 (Miss. 1986); Hailey v. Holden, 457 So. 2d 947, 951 (Miss. 1984); Hambrick v. Prestwood, 382 So. 2d 474, 476 (Miss. 1980).

Finch v. Finch, No. 2011-CT-00306-SCT (1/16/14).

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