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Back Child Support Vs Retroactive Child Support


In Florida, both of a child’s parents are held legally responsible for financially supporting that child, regardless of their relationship status. When two parents separate or initiate divorce proceedings, a court may need to step in and order one parent to pay child support to the other. There are significant penalties for failing to make these payments when ordered to do so by a court. Parents who don’t receive the correct amount of child support when it is due can also seek past-due support. This is not, however, the same thing as receiving retroactive support. Read on to learn more about the differences between these two forms of child support.

What is Retroactive Child Support? 

Retroactive child support is not the same thing as past-due child support. Instead, it covers the gap in time between two parents’ separation and when child support started. Courts can order retroactive child support during divorce proceedings, or as part of custody or support proceedings. If the paternity of a child was in question, a judge can also order retroactive support payments once paternity has been established. There are, however, some limits to retroactive child support payments. For instance, judges can’t order retroactive payments back to when a child was born (unless that child is less than two years of age), as state law limits these payments to 24 months. If, for example, a court orders retroactive payments on July 1, 2020, those payments can only go back as far as July 1, 2018.

Courts don’t usually require parents to pay retroactive support all at once, but instead will opt for setting up installment payments, which can be made at regular, predetermined intervals. These payments do not, however, reduce any ongoing or future payments.

What is Past-Due Child Support? 

Back child support, or past-due support are terms used to describe child support payments that are late. Basically, these amounts are made up of the difference between what a parent was supposed to pay and what he or she actually did pay. Unlike retroactive child support, which covers the period of time before a child support order was issued, back or past-due child support only starts adding up after a court has issued a final child support order. Someone that fails to pay back support as required could face significant penalties, including wage garnishment, driver’s license suspension, seizure of a tax return or other benefit, and contempt of court proceedings.

Call Today for Help Enforcing Your Child Support Order 

We know how stressful it can be to try and make ends meet after a divorce. This is often especially true for those who are supporting children without the help of their child’s other parent. If you are owed child support, but your co-parent is refusing to pay, there are a number of steps you can take to enforce your child support order. To learn more about your legal protections, please call experienced Florida child support lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 or send us an online message today.


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