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Retroactive Child Support vs. Child Support Arrears: What's the Difference & How Does the State & Federal Government Enforce Them

Retroactive child support can best be described as “back pay” for a specific period of time before you entered into your child support order (pre-judgment). Under Florida law, the court has the option to award retroactive child support all the way back to when the parties’ didn’t live together in the same household with their minor child(ren).

In Florida, the amount of retroactive child support cannot exceed 24 months prior to the date of filing the petition. When calculating the retroactive child support amount, the court will use the Florida Child Support Guidelines, as well as both parties’ income for the retroactive period under consideration. It is important to note that the court should give you credit for any child support payments made during the retroactive period.

Child support arrears (post-judgement) are different than retroactive child support orders. Child support arrears are the amount you owe after the court enters a child support order. Once the court enters a child support order, you are obligated to uphold whatever is stated in the support order. If you fall behind on your child support after the entry of a child support order, you will end up owing child support arrears.

The Difference Between Retroactive Child Support & Child Support Arrears

The State of Florida recognizes the difference between retroactive child support and child support arrears. As long as you keep up with your payments toward any retroactive child support, the State of Florida will not take enforcement action against you. This also applies if you are making a small payment amount (i.e $20 a month) towards a large balance (i.e. $50,000). However, once you miss a retroactive child support payment, the State of Florida will characterize your entire retroactive child support balance as child support arrears. When this occurs ,the State can garnish your wages, suspend your driver’s license, prevent you from renewing your expired Florida driver’s license, place a lien on your car or other personal/real property, levy your bank account, and/or suspend your business or professional licenses.

When it comes to the Federal government, it does not recognize a difference between retroactive child support and child support arrears. If you owe either retroactive child support or child support arrears, the Federal government has the authority to take away your tax refund. In order to do so, your balance owed must be in a Court Order on or before September 30 of the year. The Federal government can also choose to put a hold on your passport if you are behind by more than $2,500 in retroactive child support or child support arrears payments.

At DADvocacy™ Law Firm, we are committed to helping fathers protect their rights and secure a fair divorce or separation settlement. Our skilled team of Miami father's rights attorneys understand how difficult it can be for fathers to navigate the criminal justice system, which why we are here make sure you obtain the justice you deserve.

Contact our child support attorneys in Miami to schedule your free case consultation today.

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