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What You Need to Know About Retroactive Child Support in Florida
Florida child support laws hold both parents responsible for the financial support of their children. This responsibility continues if the parents are no longer together.
The State of Florida uses standard child support guidelines. The guidelines ensure that each parent pays his or her share of financial support.
Child support is generally ordered during a divorce proceeding when the parents will no longer be living together with the child. However, a court may order child support when parents have never lived together. In some cases, a court may order retroactive child support in addition to ongoing child support payments.
What is Retroactive Child Support in Florida?
Despite what the name might imply, retroactive child support does not refer to past-due child support payments. Rather, retroactive child support covers the gap between when child support should have started and the present date. The retroactive child support obligation is in addition to the regular child support payments ordered by the court.
The court may order retroactive child support during a divorce proceeding. It may also order the support payments during a child support proceeding or custody case. If paternity was in question, the court could order retroactive child support payments once it establishes paternity.
Florida’s Two Year Limitation on Retroactive Child Support Payments
The court cannot order retroactive child support payments back to when the child was born unless the child is less than two years old. Florida law limits retroactive child support payments to 24 months. For example, if the judge orders retroactive child support payments on July 1, 2020, the payments may only go as far back as July 1, 2018.
Retroactive child support payments can only cover the period the parents were separated. For example, if the parents separated on July 1, 2019, the court could only order one year of retroactive child support payments on July 1, 2020. The law assumes that both parents paid their fair share of the financial support for the child when they were together.
Retroactive Child Support is Not Back Child Support
Even though the child support payments cover a period going back as far as two years, retroactive child support is not back child support. Back child support describes payments for child support that are late. Retroactive child support payments are not late unless the parent does not pay the support payments as scheduled by the court.
There are several payment options the court might impose for retroactive child support obligations. The court recognizes that a parent may not have the financial ability to pay the entire sum in one payment. Therefore, the judge may use discretion in setting up reasonable installment payments for retroactive child support.
However, retroactive child support payments do not reduce ongoing child support payments. The retroactive payments do not reduce the amount of future child support payments. Current child support payments are calculated based on Florida’s child support guidelines and must be paid as due, regardless of the amount of the retroactive child support payments.
How Are Retroactive Child Support Payments Calculated in Florida?
The amount of retroactive child support payments is calculated based on the factors outlined in the child support statute. The court uses the parents’ income during the retroactive period to calculate the amount of retroactive child support due.
The court uses the parent’s income during the retroactive period to calculate the payments. If the parent cannot prove his or her income during that period, the court will use their current income to calculate the payments.
The court may also consider actual payments made by the parent to the other parent, the child, or a third party for the benefit of the child during the retroactive period. Those payments may be applied to the amount of support owed for the retroactive period.
How Do I File For Retroactive Child Support Payments?
The custodial parent must petition the court to request retroactive child support payments. The request may be made during a divorce proceeding or in a stand-alone court action.
The petition must state the dates the retroactive child support payments were due. The request must also give the reasons why an award of retroactive child support is justified.
A parent may ask for retroactive child support payments because the other parent refused to contribute to the financial needs of the child or hid income during the retroactive period to avoid paying his or her fair share of the child’s expenses. The court may consider a variety of reasons for retroactive child support payments.
However, time can be a factor. It is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible so that you do not lose the right to receive retroactive child support payments.