Florida Court Discusses Retroactive Child Support Obligations

In Florida, parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support to their children. Typically, this obligation ends at eighteen. If a parent did not provide financial support for their child while the child was a minor, however, their co-parent may be able to recover retroactive support, even after the child has reached the age of majority. This was illustrated in a recent Florida opinion in which the court explained that the statute does not limit the right to recover retroactive support to parents of minor children. If you have questions about child support, it is smart to meet with a Miami child support attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Setting of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father had two children together. The Department of Revenue initiated a case to establish paternity and establish child support for their children. The Administrative Law Judge conducted a video proceeding, where the parties stipulated paternity, and it was acknowledged that both children had resided solely with the mother.

Reportedly, during the hearing, the Judge expressed uncertainty regarding awarding child support to the older child, who had turned eighteen before the service of the Department of Revenue’s petition. The court ultimately concluded that the older child was no longer a ‘child’ and, therefore, the court lacked statutory authorization for retroactive child support. The Department of Revenue appealed.

Retroactive Child Support Obligations

On appeal, the Department of Revenue appealed the Administrative Law Judge’s conclusion, challenging the jurisdictional issue of awarding retroactive child support for an emancipated child. The court conducted a de novo review, emphasizing the supremacy-of-the-text principle in statutory interpretation.

In doing so, the court noted that Sections 409.256 and 409.2563 of the Florida Statutes, governing the Division of Administrative Hearing’s authorization and procedures, were pivotal. The court observed that these statutes referenced and relied on Chapter 61 and child support statutes used in non-Title IV cases. Particularly, section 61.30 was crucial, allowing for retroactive child support in certain circumstances.

The court noted that Florida case law affirmed that if a parent resided with and supported a child before the child turned eighteen, limited retroactive child support could be sought. As such, the court concluded that the administrative law judge had the statutory authority to enter an award for the older child. Finding no error in the oral pronouncement preceding the order, the court reversed the decision and remanded for the ALJ to enter an order in accordance with the court’s opinion and the prior ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Miami Attorney

The Florida courts have the authority to impose child support obligations on parents to ensure that their children are adequately cared for. If you need assistance navigating a child support dispute, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to evaluate your options. The experienced Miami family law lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can inform you of your rights and help you to seek an outcome that benefits both you and your child. You can reach us by calling us at 800-596-0579 or using the form online to arrange a conference.

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