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What is Retroactive Child Support, and When Can it Be Awarded?

what is retroactive child support

The law is crystal clear when it comes to supporting your children—both parents share that responsibility. But far too often, we see situations where one parent has been bearing the full financial burden for months or even years.

If this sounds like you, you may have grounds to pursue retroactive child support payments from your child’s other parent. At Vasquez de Lara Law Group, our family law attorneys have helped countless families navigate retroactive child support orders to ensure their children receive the resources they deserve.

What is Retroactive Child Support?

In Florida, retroactive child support refers to court-ordered payments intended to reimburse the custodial parent for expenses incurred before establishing a formal child support order.

Under Florida Statutes §61.30(17), courts have discretion to award retroactive support dating back to 24 months before the initial petition was filed. This provision aims to prevent one parent from unfairly carrying the children’s full financial needs while the other parent avoids their legal duty to pay child support.

So, in simple terms, if you’ve been the sole provider for your kids without any contributions from their other parent, the courts may order that delinquent parent to pay you back a portion of those expenses once child support is established.

When Can Retroactive Child Support Be Awarded?

Florida family courts closely examine the specific circumstances to determine if a retroactive child support award is warranted. Some key factors include:

If There Was a Delay in Establishing the Initial Support Order

Life gets hectic, but delays in legally solidifying a child support arrangement shouldn’t punish the custodial parent covering 100% of the child’s financial needs. If the other parent dragged their feet or contested the case, causing delays, retroactive support could make you whole.

If One Parent Intentionally Avoided Paying Support

In some troubling cases, a non-custodial parent is fully aware of their obligation to support their kids financially. Yet, they willfully neglect or evade making any payments to the custodial parent. Courts are inclined to order retroactive reimbursement when this intentional avoidance is proven.

If Paternity Was Established Well After the Child’s Birth

Custody disputes can get messy, especially if paternity is disputed early on. If the father’s identity wasn’t confirmed for months or years after the child’s birth, that significant delay could justify retroactive payments once paternity is legally established.

If the Custodial Parent Incurred Substantial Childcare Expenses

Raising children requires a heavy financial investment from the custodial parent, from daycare costs to uninsured medical bills. When calculating potential retroactive awards, Florida courts will scrutinize the verifiable expenses you’ve already paid to provide for your children’s wellbeing.

Other Examples of Where Retroactive Support May Be Granted

To further illustrate when retroactive child support becomes a consideration, let’s explore a few common scenarios:

  • Child Born Outside Marriage — If a child is born to unmarried parents, establishing paternity is crucial for determining each parent’s rights and responsibilities – including child support. The mother typically covers all childcare costs alone during the often lengthy legal process. Once paternity is confirmed, the father may owe retroactive payments.
  • Lengthy Legal Proceedings — Due to contentious litigation, custody battles can drag on for months or years. During this limbo, the parent granted majority often shoulders the children’s full financial burden. Retroactive support aims to balance that inequity.

No matter how complex your situation may seem, having an experienced family law attorney in your corner is crucial for navigating the nuances of retroactive child support in Florida.

Factors Courts Consider for Retroactive Awards

When determining whether to grant retroactive child support and calculating potential award amounts, Florida’s family courts undertake a thorough review considering numerous factors, such as:

  • The specific financial needs of the child(ren) over the retroactive period in question
  • Each parent’s verifiable income and overall financial circumstances at that time
  • If the non-paying parent intentionally avoided or deferred their support obligations
  • Any relevant Florida laws and restrictions around maximum retroactive timeframes

For example, under Florida Statute §61.30(17), retroactive awards are currently capped at 24 months preceding the initial support petition filing date. So, clearly documenting childcare costs, receipts, income statements, and the timeline of events is critical for building a strong claim.

Calculating the Retroactive Child Support Amount

If the court determines retroactive support is warranted based on the evidence presented, they’ll calculate the amount owed using the same formula applied to standard Florida child support orders.

This formula primarily considers each parent’s net monthly income during the retroactive period, accounting for factors like:

  • Basic child support obligations based on the number of children
  • Their proportional income shares at the time
  • Allowable deductions for taxes, union dues, other support orders, etc.
  • Childcare and health insurance expenses paid over that period
  • Potential credits for any informal support payments already made

Having thorough documentation of all income sources, childcare costs, and payments made is vital for ensuring an accurate retroactive calculation fair to both parties.

However, these figures bring us to one of the most common points of contention.

Obstacles in Proving Historical Finances

One of the greatest challenges in retroactive child support cases is proving each parent’s financial situation months or years in the past.

Records may be incomplete or inconsistent. Parents may attempt to distort their historical income levels to pay more or less. Exaggerations and “he said, she said” disputes often arise over informal payment amounts that lack documentation.

This is precisely why you need a lawyer representing you. Our attorneys subpoena financial records, question employers about prior earnings, and leverage tools like depositions or sworn statements to establish credible facts.

We’ll fight to ensure your retroactive calculation is based on solid evidence and fair assessments – not speculative estimates that brand you as dishonest or irresponsible. Your children’s well-being is simply too important to leave anything to chance.

Pursuing Retroactive Child Support Payments

If you believe you have a valid claim for retroactive child support payments from your child’s other parent, taking action is crucial to protecting your rights and interests.

The first step is filing the appropriate petition or motion with the court, clearly outlining the circumstances that warrant consideration of retroactive support. This formal legal document puts your grievances squarely before a judge and sets the process in motion.

From there, the importance of proper legal representation cannot be overstated. You’ll want to immediately consult with one of our skilled child support attorneys to:

  • Conduct an in-depth review of your specific situation and Florida’s applicable laws
  • Advise you on the estimated timeframe and financial scope of potential retroactive awards
  • Gather exhaustive evidence, documentation, and accountings to substantiate your claims
  • Prepare you for any hearings, depositions, mediations, or adversarial proceedings
  • Advocate fiercely on your behalf to maximize the retroactive support you may be owed

Our legal team has an extensive track record of proven court victories in complex retroactive child support matters. We understand the difficult financial obstacles you’ve endured, and we’ll move quickly to help lighten that burden.

Because every success puts your family one step closer to the brighter future you all deserve.

Seeking Child Support Back Pay? Call Vasquez de Lara Law Group

Raising children is one of life’s greatest joys…but also one of the most expensive and arduous responsibilities we’ll ever undertake. When you’ve unfairly shouldered the full weight of those childcare costs with zero contributions from the other parent, the effects undoubtedly extend far beyond simple financial strain.

That’s why Florida’s provisions for retroactive child support exist – to create an equitable path toward rebalancing the scales. However, successfully filing a retroactive support claim requires legal experience and uncompromising advocacy. These cases often become, “he said, she said,” battles over financial records from months or years ago.

You can’t afford to go it alone. Instead, put your family’s future in the hands of Vasquez de Lara Law Group. Our attorneys have spent years championing parental rights cases just like yours – and we’ve built a hard-hitting reputation for delivering results that uplift our clients.

Because at the end of the day, you deserve to feel reassured that your children’s well-being is finally the top priority it always should have been. With our legal team in your corner, the path toward justice becomes a reality instead of an uphill struggle.

Schedule a consultation with our office today, and let’s pave the way toward the restitution and peace of mind you all deserve.

Author Bio

Vanessa Vasquez de Lara is the founder and owner of Vasquez de Lara Law Group, a Miami family law firm. With over 20 years of experience in family law, she has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including divorces, child support, child custody, alimony, and other family law cases.

Vanessa received her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 2002 and is a member of the Florida Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named to the 2015 Super Lawyers Rising Stars and the 2016-2023 Super Lawyers list.

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