“What Are Jackson Credits?”

Jackson Credits are credits against child support arrears that come into play when the parent who does NOT have legal physical custody of the minor has, in fact, had the child living with him or her.

Essentially, what can happen is that the parties can have a court order, but be ignoring it. This actually happens quite frequently—the child changes residence, but the parents do not go back to court to modify the support order or the custody order (one or both).

The case of Jackson v. Jackson established that the court, using equitable powers, can retroactively credit against payments the months or years that the child lived with the parent ordered to pay support.

In cases where Jackson credits may apply, it is important to be able to prove that the party who did not have legal custody did, in fact, have actual custody. School records, witnesses, and other evidence may be used. Oftentimes the writings of the parties (texts or e-mails) will establish who had actual custody.

The credits are used to deal with the inherent unfairness of one party both financially supporting the child who is living with that parent, and then also being ordered to pay support that is calculated based on the court order giving the other parent primary custody.

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