Retroactive Child Support
As each state has their own set of Family Law guidelines (statutes), for the purposes of this blog, guidelines for the state of Florida Child Support Laws, which include retroactive situations, will be used. In Florida Family law, the term “in the best interest of the child” is used frequently and in a sense becomes the goal or mission of the Florida Courts. It is important to note that child support in Florida is a legal requirement for all parents, living or not living together, married, divorced, or never married. When a child is born, unless custody is signed over to the state, each party involved has a responsibility to that child for its maintenance, care, and education. Child support is based on a party’s income and the amount of time, measured in number of over-nights a child spends with each parent. Parents cannot waive the paying or receiving of child support nor handle the issue of child support in a pre or post nuptial agreement. They can, however, determine an amount they both agree to but this determination will have to be approved by the court.
There are times when the awarding of child support is made retroactive to the actual need for support. This can occur when, for example, paternity is not proven for several years or a parent who has raised a child without benefit of support from the other parent doesn’t understand their rights to have been collecting child support. Sometimes, even after a child is no longer a minor, a parent can sue for back child support.
Up until 1998 when the Retroactive Child Support Law in Florida was enacted, a parent could receive adjudicated child support clear back to the time of the child’s birth. Now, however, retroactive child support can go back no more than 24 months prior to the date of filing. The child support amount will be figured on a month to month basis, taking into account incomes, number of over-nights spent with each parent, and special needs of a child such as extreme physical or mental health concerns. Depending on the amount owed and the ability to pay, the owing parent may be given reasonable time and a repayment plan to make restitution. It is important to note that if a child was born before l998, retroactive child support must be paid back to the birth of the child. It is also important to note a court may order retroactive child support for the months a case for divorce or child support was pending, prior to the final judgment. Additionally, if the party to be adjudicated to pay retroactive child support can prove he/she has contributed to the child’s support or expenses during the time support is requested, this amount may be subtracted from the final award.
A final judgment of child support will not be affected by the need for payment of retroactive child support. If future need arises such as inability to make payments or the circumstances of the ordered timesharing arrangements change, either party can return to court for a modification judgment. As there are many twists and turns when it comes to establishing the right and need for retroactive child support, it is wise to use the services of an experienced Family Law attorney knowledgeable in the area of child support. Attorney Grant Gisondo whose Family Law practice is in West Palm Beach and serves Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, and Orange counties, is ready to answer your questions and see you through all types of child support litigation. He offers a free, initial, in-office consultation where he will meet with you personally. Call him on his cell at (561) 530-4568 for an appointment.