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Florida Court Rules on Retroactive Child Support Allegations


The State of Florida requires parents to provide financial support to their children. The obligation to do so ends when the child turns 18, the age of majority. However, if the parent did not provide financial support to the child when the child was still a minor, the parent who is owed child support can recover child support retroactively even after the child has turned 18. A recent Florida case illustrates how this can be accomplished. In this article, the Tampa, FL child support attorneys at Westchase Law, P.A. will discuss the case and the relevant Florida law that applies.

Background of the case 

In this case, a mother and father had two children together. The Department of Revenue began a case to establish the father’s paternity and child support for their children. During a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, both parties stipulated paternity. Both children resided solely with their mother.

During the hearing, the judge balked at awarding child support to the oldest child who had previously turned 18 before the Department of Revenue filed its petition. In this case, the judge ruled that the eldest child was no longer a child and, thus, the court lacked the statutory authorization necessary to award retroactive child support. The Department of Revenue appealed the decision.

The appeal 

The Department of Revenue appealed the Administrative Law Judge’s decision and challenged the notion that the jurisdictional issue of awarding retroactive child support was outside of the court’s purview since the child was previously emancipated. The appeals court conducted a de novo review, emphasizing the “supremacy of the text” principle in statutory interpretation.

Chapter 61 of Florida’s child support statutes directly addresses when the court can order retroactive child support in a Florida custody case. The appeals court relied on this chapter to determine that the Administrative Law Judge erred when he blocked child support payments for a child over the age of 18.

Florida law provides and Florida case law affirms that if a parent resided with and supported a child before the child turned 18, the parent can seek limited retroactive child support. Thus, the appeals court determined that the Administrative Law Judge had the statutory authority to enter an award for the older child even though they had turned 18. The court thus reversed the decision and remanded the issue to the Administrative Law Judge to enter an order consistent with the appeals court’s findings.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Child Support Attorney Today 

The Florida courts have the authority to impose child support payments on a parent retroactively even after that child has turned 18. If you believe that you are owed child support, call the Tampa, FL family law attorneys at Westchase Law, P.A. today to schedule an appointment. We can help you file a petition to recover child support payments from the other parent. Call today to learn more.



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