Retroactive Reduction of Child Support

by J N from Boca Raton, Florida, Palm Beach County

The Petitioner and the Respondent have shared custody of the child, with the Petitioner having primary custody.


Petitioner and Respondent have agreed to use to Palm Beach County Visitation model where both parents live locally.

Under this model, the Respondent has visitation of the child for 130 (35.5%) of the overnights in a year. Respondent is current in his support payments.

From October, 2011 through September, 2012, the respondent actually had 170 (46.4%) of the 366 overnights with the child. During the same period, the Petitioner had the child for 178 (48.6%) of the 366 overnights. For the remaining 18 overnights (5%), the child traveled and was away from both parents.

The Petitioner has relinquished overnights for various reasons, but mostly because of required traveling for work.

1. Can the Respondent apply to have his child support payments recalculated for the past year?

2. Can the Respondent apply to have child support recalculated going forward?

3. Based upon the facts can the Respondent apply for Primary custody of the child?

Answer to Florida Child Support Question

Dear JN,

Having child support adjusted because of changed circumstances is common. Especially in the current climate of economic instability.

It sounds to me that the effective time-sharing in this case is more of a 50/50 shared custody than the 65/35 that was originally agreed to.

Is this enough of a change to justify a permanenent change in the time-sharing arrangement and the child support amounts? My guess is that it probably is.

Will a court adjust the child support that was previously paid? This is highly unlikely, barring some extraordinary circumstances.

Will a court agree to a time-sharing change and an appropriate adjustment in child support? Maybe. It all depends on the individual circumstances, and if the current time-sharing percentage is likely to be permanent in nature and in the child's best interest.

A determination of parental responsibility, a Parenting Plan and a time-sharing schedule may not be modified without a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances and a determination that the modification is in the best interests of the child(ren).


The procedure is spelled out in the instructions to the Supplemental Petition to Modify Parenting Plan/Time-Sharing Schedule and Other Relief, Form 12.905(a).

The most successful way to have these agreements changed is by filing a Settlement Agreement agreed to by both parties, and this would be my recommendation. If not, I recommend seeking legal advice from a local Palm Beach county Family Law Attorney before proceding pro se.

If you and the respondent are able to reach an agreement on any or all of the issues, you should file a Settlement Agreement.


If by primary custody you mean the respondent would like to have a majority of the overnights such as a 65/35 split and decision making authority, then yes, the respondent can ask that the court accept a proposed time-sharing schedule and parenting plan. Once again, an agreement between the parties is best if possible.

For more information, please read the instructions to the form, and have a look at the following pages...

Florida Parenting Plan

Child Visitation Agreements

Florida Child Custody Laws

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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