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How Does Retroactive Child Support Work in Florida?

David Scott, P.A. Aug. 20, 2022

If your divorce is final and your ex-spouse hasn’t paid child support, you are likely feeling angry and frustrated, not to mention unable to pay your bills. Below, we’re going to detail what Florida law has to say about retroactive child support and how a family law attorney can help you.

How Child Support Payments Work in General in Florida

Both parents are financially responsible for the well-being and care of their children, even after divorce occurs. Florida law mandates that the parent who has custody may be entitled to child support payments from the non-custodial parent depending on the financial circumstances described in the divorce decree.

When child support payments are owed, the custodial parent can seek a child support order from the court. The non-custodial parent must pay the child support amounts after receiving the order.

Understanding How Retroactive Child Support Works

Retroactive child support is the money available for the time between the custodial parent’s eligibility to receive payments and when the court order is finalized. A court order must be in effect for retroactive child support to be received.

The Florida statute on retroactive child support states:

(a) The court shall apply the guidelines schedule in effect at the time of the hearing subject to the obligor’s demonstration of his or her actual income, as defined by subsection (2), during the retroactive period. Failure of the obligor to so demonstrate shall result in the court using the obligor’s income at the time of the hearing in computing child support for the retroactive period.

(b) All actual payments made by a parent to the other parent or the child or third parties for the benefit of the child throughout the proposed retroactive period.

Limits on Claiming Retroactive Child Support

The law places a limit on how much retroactive child support can be received. The limit is 24 months. Even if the custodial parent should have received several years of child support payments, the limit applies only to the period after a court order was filed.

Retroactive child support cannot be collected if the non-custodial parent is unable to pay or if the need for child support during that period did not exist.

Collection hinges on when the court order is issued, so the burden of responsibility to file lies with the custodial parent. If you are the custodial parent and are missing child support payments, it’s important to act as soon as possible to not miss the filing timelines. A knowledgeable Florida family law attorney can assist you in the filing process.

Payment Options for Retroactive Child Support

When retroactive child support is paid after the court order, the non-custodial parent can pay in one lump sum or in payment installments. The court will work with both parents to set up a feasible plan that fits each one’s financial situation.

Retroactive child support is given in addition to regular child support payments. It does not reduce the amount of regular payments set by the court. If the non-custodial parent made other payments during that 24-month period, the court may deduct the amount from the total owed in retroactive payments.

Legal Assistance for Retroactive Child Support Cases

Since retroactive child support cases can be complex, you need the expertise of an experienced Florida family lawyer. He or she can act as an advocate to help you obtain the financial support your children need.