Retroactive Child Support

Florida law requires parents to support their children, thereby alleviating the state of the burden of providing for them. Child support funds the ongoing needs of children. However, when a parent did not provide child support in the past, custodial parents can petition the circuit court for child support from the noncustodial parent.

Retroactive child support is a child support payment—furnished either in a lump sum or installments—that accounts for a child's past expenses. Retroactive child support differs from past due child support in that retroactive child support can apply without a court order.

Florida Retroactive Child Support Attorney

If you are owed retroactive child support or you have other issues regarding child support, it is important to speak to an experienced Fort Lauderdale family law attorney regarding your issues. Child support is a legal, binding obligation with both parents expected to do their part in supporting their children. Allow Bacchus Law Firm to assist you in your case.

Bacchus Law Firm is located in Downtown Fort Lauderdale and we serve clients throughout South Florida in cities like Miami, West Palm Beach, LaBelle, and East Naples, Florida. Call (954) 500-5555 to schedule an initial, free consultation as soon as possible.

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Retroactive Child Support in Florida

In contrast, past due child support is child support the court ordered a parent to pay that the parent then neglected to pay. Retroactive child support can become past due child support if the court orders the parent to pay it, but the parent does not comply with the court's order promptly. There are two main instances where a parent might pursue retroactive child support.

  • When parents divorce or separate, one parent might pay most of the child's expenses while a divorce order is pending. A Florida court can award the parent who did not contribute financially to repay the other parent for the cost of childcare.
  • When the child's parents are not married or in a relationship, one parent might support the child initially. The custodial parent can petition the court for retroactive child support in Florida. If the child is under two years old, the custodial parent can also receive money contributing to the birth cost.
  • When there is a question as to whether an individual is a child's biological parent, retroactive child support might apply if a paternity test reveals that a person is the child's biological parent. Individuals seeking retroactive child support payment might need to wait until a legal proceeding establishes paternity before the court orders retroactive child support. Suppose an individual has a child outside of marriage or a committed relationship and alleges that a person is the child's parent. If the alleged parent questions their relationship with the child, the paternity test may slow the proceedings. Before the court recognizes the noncustodial parent's obligations toward the child, the custodial parent might have taken on all the financial responsibilities of raising the child, necessitating retroactive child support from the noncustodial parent to make up for the lack of any financial contribution to the child.
  • Sometimes, the circuit court will award retroactive child support to the noncustodial parent that covers childcare before the custodial parent petitioned the court for child support. The custodial parent must show that they were the only parent contributing to the child's care and needs.

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Time Limits On Retroactive Child Support

An old version of Florida's retroactive child support rule allowed custodial parents to recover retroactive child support accounting for a child's entire life. A parent of a 17-year-old could retrieve payment covering the child's entire life. Since this rule disadvantaged the noncustodial parent, who might not have been prepared for such a large payment, a new rule replaced it. The new rule allows retroactive child support for the past two years.

In many cases, when parents raising a child together divorce or separate, the child lives with one of the parents who provides most of their care and financial support. Retroactive child support requirements can apply to the parent who does not support the child after separation.

When the custodial parent petitions the court for child support, the parent can receive ongoing child support and retroactive support that covers up to the past two years. However, courts tend to scrutinize requests for retroactive child support dating back the full two years more closely than requests for less retroactive child support. A court might be more likely to award retroactive child support for shorter periods, such as six months, than the entire two years.

Another typical example where retroactive child support applies is when the child's parents were never married or in a supportive relationship. In that case, the custodial parent can obtain retroactive child support for up to two years preceding the child support petition and can also receive ongoing child support. If the child was born within the past two years, the court might also order the noncustodial parent to help cover the medical costs associated with the birth.

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Calculating Retroactive Child Support Payments

The court calculates retroactive child support using its statutory child support guidelines. The retroactive child support award is based on parental income, with greater awards for higher income levels. In many cases, the court uses the parent's past income to calculate the child support amount. Suppose the retroactive child support payment accounts for the past two years of childcare. In that case, the court takes the parent's income from the past two years to calculate the retroactive child support amount.

If the parent just got a raise, it will not increase the retroactive child support payment. Instead, the retroactive child support payment stems from the parent's past income. However, an increase in income can affect the current child support monthly payment or can be grounds for a modification to the child support obligation. In determining the retroactive child support amount, the circuit court might also consider past payments the noncustodial parent made to the custodial parent for the child's maintenance and subtract these payments from the retroactive child support amount.

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Limitations On Retroactive Child Support Payments

When a custodial parent petitions the circuit court for a retroactive child support payment from the noncustodial parent, the circuit court evaluates the circumstances of the case before ordering retroactive child support. In some cases, the circuit court may deny the petition for retroactive child support.

  • If the custodial parent has an exceptionally high income, the circuit court might not award retroactive child support or may reduce the amount ordered.
  • When the custodial parent requests more retroactive child support than Florida law allows, the circuit court may limit the child support award. Parents can only receive retroactive child support for the past two years.
  • If the noncustodial parent would not have been able to make child support payments because of financial hardship or health problems, the circuit court might not order the financially limited parent to pay child support. The noncustodial parent must provide the court with proof of financial or medical problems. However, if the noncustodial parent chooses unemployment or underemployment, the court may still order the parent to pay retroactive child support. Although the court recognizes genuine financial and health problems, it might be skeptical of parents' attempts to shirk child support obligations by not working.
  • Although there is a limitation on retroactive child support, there is no statute of limitations barring the collection of past-due child support in Florida. Retroactive child support can become past-due child support when a court orders that a parent pay retroactive child support to the custodial parent, and the custodial parent fails to do so.

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Additional Resources— provides a directory of Florida statutes governing child support, including section 61.30 Child Support Guidelines; Retroactive Child Support. With the slogan "because knowledge is power," empowers people who wish to obtain retroactive child support with an understanding of the law. In an article titled Florida State Law vs. Federal Law, WomensLaw.Org explains the difference between state and federal law. Understanding this distinction is essential, as Florida law generally governs retroactive child support cases.

Florida Department of Revenue Complying with Child Support Orders— The Florida Department of Revenue's Child Support Program helps ensure families receive the court-ordered retroactive child support awards to which they are entitled. The Florida Department of Revenue website has information about payment agreements, income withholding, suspension actions, court actions, and other retroactive child support collection methods.

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Florida Retroactive Child Support Lawyer | Broward County, FL

Retroactive child support issues can be complex. Therefore, you may want to consider hiring a skilled Fort Lauderdale family law attorney for further legal guidance on how child support cases are addressed in the state of Florida. Thankfully, Bacchus Law Firm is knowledgeable about child support laws in Florida and can help you to understand your legal rights.

Bacchus Law Firm accept retroactive child support cases throughout the Miami-metropolitan area in counties such as Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Hendry County, Collier County, and Palm Beach County, Florida. Call (954) 500-5555 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation

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