October 2, 2005
Case Law Development: No Retroactive Modification of Temporary Child Support Orders
The Kentucky Supreme Court held that a child support order rendered by a district court as part of a domestic violence proceeding may not be retroactively modified by the rendering court or by a circuit court in a dissolution proceeding. While Kentucky statutes do allow temporary orders granted in an order of protection to be revoked or modified before a final decree, the court found that the more specific direction of other Kentucky statutes that child support orders may be modified only prospectively controlled. As each installment of a child support order becomes due, that installment becomes “a fixed, liquidated debt, not subject to retroactive modification.”
The court noted the important policy considerations supporting this interpretation: “If a subsequent court order retroactively cancels a child support debt, parties would be encouraged to refrain from payment in the hope of obtaining relief subsequently” The court also noted that the difficulties arising in this case were the result of orders in two different courts and concluded that the case “well illustrates the desirability of having all matters relating to a family's domestic conflicts handled by the same court.” One judge dissented, on the basis that the oblige parent had agreed to the circuit court’s jurisdiction to modify the decree.
Thompson v. Thompson, 2005 Ky. LEXIS 301 (Supreme Court of Kentucky September 22, 2005)
Opinion on the web at 220.127.116.11/Opinions/2003-SC-000477-DG.pdf (last visited October 1, 2005 bgf)