In the state of Florida, both parents are legally responsible to provide for support for their children. Florida courts may require a noncustodial parent to contribute or pay for expenses paid by the custodial parent prior to when the court finalizes a divorce or order of child support payments. This occurs when the custodial parent becomes responsible for the child and pays for the child’s expenses and day-today care. The court will backdate child support payments to cover the expenses paid by the noncustodial parent while the order was pending.

Florida courts may backdate the child support payments to a period when the noncustodial parent was not even ordered to make payments if the custodial parent was responsible in paying for the child’s upbringing.

Can I Collect Retroactive Child Support in Florida?

Most states permit collecting child support back to the date when you first applied for child support, not just from the date your application is approved. Florida permits collection of child support before the application was filed. When determining child support payments in Florida, the court may order retroactive child support payments for the time between the date the parents separated and the date the child support order went into effect. The maximum amount that the court can backdate the payments is up to 24 months. Florida courts may allow the noncustodial parent to make the payments either in a lump sum amount or installment amounts.

What Are the Restrictions on Collecting Retroactive Child Support In Florida?

Retroactive child support may not be awarded or may be limited in amount if either of the following occurred:

  • there was no need for child support during the prior period
  • the other parent was unable to pay
  • The payments can only be backdated to up to 24 months prior to the date of the filing for support

How Is the Amount of Retroactive Child Support Calculated and Paid?

If the other parent cannot prove what their prior income was, then that parent’s current income will be used to calculate the amount of retroactive child support. A Florida Court is also likely to consider an installment plan for paying retroactive child support, instead of one large payment.

Florida courts can backdate and extend the court ordered child support payments up to 24 months prior to the filing of the child support petition. For example, if a parent filed for child support in April 2012, the court may extend the payments back to April of 2010.

How Far Back Can I Collect Retroactive Child Support?

A parent can collect retroactive child support from the time you and the other parent were no longer living together, or two years, whichever is shorter. Generally, the parent seeking retroactive child support payments cannot seek payments for support for the amount extending beyond the 24 month period prior to date of filing the petition.

Will Retroactive Child Support Reduce Future Child Support Payments?

Retroactive child support is granted in addition to regular child support. Retroactive child support does not reduce future payments that was ordered and finalized by the court at a later date. However, if the parent required to make child support payments becomes financially unable to make the payment amount or there has been a change of circumstances in the finances of the obligated parent, the noncustodial parent pay petition the court for a modification of his or her child support obligation either to reduce it or temporarily postpone it.

Will Prior Support Paid Reduce the Retroactive Child Support Payments?

After the court decides how far back the retroactive payments must be paid, the money the the noncustodial parent has already paid during that time which contributed to the child’s expenses and support may be considered and subtracted from the final award. The Florida courts determine that amount of child support payments in a way to make it fair for both parties and do not obligate a parent to pay more than they are required by law to pay.

Do I Need a Family Lawyer?

If you are seeking to establish retroactive child support, it may be wise to speak with a family lawyer or a child support lawyer. Consulting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and help you deal with the complicated legal system.