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Explaining Retroactive Child Support in Florida


The concept of retroactive child support can be confusing to many divorcing parents, who may ask what ‘retroactivity’ is relevant. However, Florida law allows the custodial parent to petition, in some cases, for child support dating not just to the divorce, but to the initial separation. This may not always be available, but if it is, the additional support can be of great help to a parent trying to keep their head above water.

Child Support Obligation Starts Early

Essentially, retroactive child support is intended to be a stopgap between the time that support becomes necessary and the time that someone is able to actually obtain a court order to compel support payments. The court has fairly broad discretion in Florida, able to date support payments back up to 24 months, if the situation warrants it (though before the passage of the relevant statute, there was no time limit). Generally, the furthest back that retroactive support will be awarded is the date on which the parents stopped living together in the same household.

There are exceptions to these rules; for example, in rare cases, a parent may be able to sue for retroactive support even after the child in question has turned 18 – usually, if a child is disabled or otherwise requires significant medical care. However, most of the time, support will end at age 18, since the child will have attained the age of majority, so any retroactive request may either be denied or only be available for the two years prior.

Why Seek Retroactive Support?

There are two major reasons why a custodial parent might seek retroactive child support. The first is if the child or children have had unmet support needs during the period in question – for example, if a child becomes disabled suddenly, one parent might be put in the position of covering all their medical care and then seek retroactive child support to address the balance. The other reason is if there is evidence that the other parent has concealed either financial information or contact information (that is, they could not be contacted for a period of time).

If the court sees fit to award retroactive child support in your case, it will generally be added to existing child support obligations, creating a sort of payment plan as opposed to demanding a lump sum of money. The court will not place either parent in a situation where they will wind up unable to provide for themselves; if the non-custodial parent is able to establish that they have mitigating circumstances that prevent their paying, or if they can establish that the custodial parent did not require support during that period, the court will generally listen.

Call A Hollywood Child Support Attorney

Retroactive child support is one tool in the box in terms of ensuring that your children are supported in the manner required by Florida law. If you believe that it may be necessary in your case, consulting an experienced Hollywood child support attorney from the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. may help to clarify the best path for you and your family. Contact our offices today to schedule an initial consultation.


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