Pay Retroactive Child Support

by Cindy from Tampa, Florida, Hillsborough County

Can the court order the noncustodial parent to pay retroactive child support if the noncustodial parent has been consistently paying child support since birth and provided medical and dental through noncustodial insurance?

This was a verbal agreement between the two parents initially, not a court order.

The custodial parent's lawyer claims that the noncustodial parent was not paying enough. Can retro be enforced when child support was being paid without a court order?

Answer to Florida Child Support Question

Dear Cindy,

Maybe. Is the custodial parent initiating this, or is the custodial parent's lawyer pursuing this?

If the parents were in agreement and the child has been consistently provided for, it seems to me that it is splitting hairs to order retroactive child support under this set of circumstances.

Particularly if the amount paid was reasonable; seemed to meet the needs of the child; and both parents agreed on the amount paid.

If those are all true, it may be a huge waste of the court's time, along with everyone else's time to pursue retroactive child support, even if the amount paid was not exactly correct according to the current child support guidelines.

It is common for people to go for years, paying on an original child support order, that does not match the current income of either parent; or even the needs of the child. If neither parent initiates a modification, it doesn't happen.

In order to go back and analyze whether the noncustodial parent was paying enough child support all of the financial records need to be analyzed -- for both parents for all of the years in question.

It is disingenuous to suggest that since the noncustodial parent is earning x amount of dollars now and so should be paying x amount in child support; that his/her income was the same in
past years.

Also per Florida Statute, retroactive child support can only be ordered retroactive for two years:

Florida Statutes 61.30:

17) In an initial determination of child support, whether in a paternity action, dissolution of marriage action, or petition for support during the marriage, the court has discretion to award child support retroactive to the date when the parents did not reside together in the same household with the child, not to exceed a period of 24 months preceding the filing of the petition, regardless of whether that date precedes the filing of the petition.
In determining the retroactive award in such cases, the court shall consider the following:

(a) The court shall apply the guidelines schedule in effect at the time of the hearing subject to the obligor’s demonstration of his or her actual income, as defined by subsection (2), during the retroactive period.

Failure of the obligor to so demonstrate shall result in the court using the obligor’s income at the time of the hearing in computing child support for the retroactive period.

(b) All actual payments made by a parent to the other parent or the child or third parties for the benefit of the child throughout the proposed retroactive period.

(c) The court should consider an installment payment plan for the payment of retroactive child support.

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