California law does not allow retroactive modifications of child support orders. However, it does recognize what are known as “Jackson Credits” to resolve child support arrears cases. If you believe you are eligible for a modification of what you owe in support, here is what you need to know.
Jackson Credits Defined
Jackson credits arise when a non-custodial parent assumes full custody of a child but fails to file a motion to modify the underlying child support order, custody order, or both. If the non-custodial parent can prove that he provided a primary residence for the child, he can seek credit to reduce or eliminate the amount owed in child support arrears. The court’s rationale in awarding Jackson credits is that the non-custodial parent fulfilled his support obligation by providing a primary residence for the child.
How to Apply for Credits
If you believe you are entitled to Jackson credits, you may request a judicial determination of arrearages in addition to, or instead of, an administrative review. To do so, you must file a motion with the court and provide a monthly breakdown of your child support, the amount you paid, and any evidence demonstrating that you are entitled to the credits.
The noncustodial parent must provide evidence demonstrating that he maintained actual custody of his minor child for some duration during the period for which he owes child support arrears. School records, witness accounts, emails, text messages, and any other written correspondence can help prove that the noncustodial parent was 100% responsible for the full-time care of the child.
The Legal Landscape
In the 1975 Jackson v. Jackson case, the Court held that it could discharge a noncustodial parent’s child support obligation during any period in which a parent maintained 100% care of the child. More recently, in the 2014 Helgestad v. Vargas case, the Court expanded Jackson credit eligibility. In that case, the Court held that Jackson credits may be awarded even if a complete change in custody did not occur. This means that going forward, noncustodial parents may be eligible for the credit if they only increased their child visitation to 50% or more.
If you owe child support arrears and think you may be entitled to Jackson credits, seek advice from a diligent California child support attorney. Ethan M. Weisinger is an experienced child support advocate. He will work zealously to help you get the credit you deserve. Contact us on or webpage www.wcfamilyattorney.com or you may call us at (925)258-2020 to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.
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