What is Retroactive Child Support?

Family Law

When determining the needs of your children after separation from your child’s parent it is imperative to consider the financial changes that may result. Florida law mandates that both parents have a legal and financial responsibility for the support of their children. In order to receive child support, a parent must obtain an order from the court, setting the amount due each month going forward. This process can be streamlined by contacting your Orlando Child Custody Attorney who will help you to prepare the proper documentation to present to the court. The child support process seems to be easy enough to understand, giving parents a general impression, of which factors the court looks to in their determination. However, some do not realize when entering into a child support case, they may not only be entitled to future payments but also past support payments. It is critical to know your rights in relation to your children and support of the same. Your Orlando Child Custody Attorney can discuss with you, your options and eligibility for retroactive child support payments.

Retroactive support accounts for the time between when a parent becomes eligible for child support and the time of entry of a child support order. The court can award retroactive payments in two separate situations: after a child support order has previously been entered, where a parent failed to regularly exercises time sharing  or “in an initial determination,… the court has discretion to award child support retroactive to the date when the parents did not reside together in the same household with the child, not to exceed a period of 24 months preceding the filing of the petition.” A parent may seek retroactive payments whether or not a child support case is ongoing or previously concluded. However, you may only receive 24 months retroactively, regardless of how long you have been eligible. Because this maximum is in place, parents should contact an experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney as soon as possible, to avoid losing the support they are entitled to.

When determining an initial child support order the court uses statutory Florida Child Support Guidelines that consider: “needs of the child, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent.” This is also correlated to the time-sharing schedule decided between the parties. Retroactive child support is calculated in the same manner. More specifically when determining retroactive support, the court shall consider the following:

  1. The obligor’s actual income during the retroactive period
  2. Any payments made by each parent or third parties for the benefit of the child during the retroactive period

One difference is that that court has to go back over the period of time and calculate what the obligation should have been during those periods.  The person who will be ordered to pay the retroactive child support bears the burden of providing competent evidence of what the respective incomes were during the retroactive period.  If the court is not provided the evidence, then the current income of the parties will be used to calculate the retroactive amount.  This is just one of the reasons it is important to have the assistance of an Orlando child support attorney to assist you in your presentation of evidence.

Further, Florida's child support statute specifically provides that a court should take into consideration any payments made by the party ordered to pay child support when calculating retroactive child support obligation. Furthermore, it also allows the court to even consider payments made by third parties. The court should calculate the total amount of retroactive child support and then subtract the amount of support that has already been provided. The burden of proof is on the party seeking to receive the credit so it is imperative that you keep records of all payments you made to support your child.

Finally, when determining the proper payment of retroactive support, “the court should consider an installment payment plan for the payment of retroactive child support.” These retroactive payments can be added to the already required monthly payments. Courts will take the financial circumstances of both parties into consideration; however, if the payer does not meet their financial obligations once the order is set- there will be legal ramifications including garnishment of their wages and tax returns. If you find yourself involved in a retroactive support case, it is important to confer with an experienced Orlando Child Support Attorney, who can be sure that your financial needs are met.

Our office has extensive knowledge of not only child support but also retroactive child support cases. Meet with a knowledgeable Orlando Child Custody Attorney and protect your rights to past and future child support payments. Our firm also has offices in Orlando, Panama City, Pensacola, Fort Walton, and Navarre and are child support attorneys are here to help you.

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