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Is There a Limit on How Long You Can Pursue Child Support?


Parents need child support to provide a standard of living that promotes the health and welfare of the child. Struggling to make ends meet means fewer opportunities for the child, and often, less time with the parent, as he/she works extra hours in hopes of making up the difference. The other parent should not be able to ignore his/her financial responsibilities, and child support orders are in place to ensure that this obligation is met. Unfortunately, not all parents abide by these orders, and the other parent is forced to seek legal enforcement. Florida’s Department of Revenue has the authority to take steps to compel compliance, and the parent has the ability to go through the court system, which is often faster and more effective. In some situations, though, tracking down the other parent becomes impossible for an extended period of time. Some will go to great lengths to avoid child support, including moving to another country. If it takes years or decades to track this person down, and the child is no longer a minor, does the parent entitled to support still have the ability to force payment of the arrears? A California woman successfully secured a settlement for back child support, unpaid since the 1970s, after he fled to Canada. Understanding a parent’s right to collect child support is key to getting the money owed.

How Long Can You Collect Back Child Support?

Child support is not mandated until a valid court order is in place saying it must be paid. These orders typically coincide with divorce or a paternity claim. Thus, until the order is in place, the other parent has no right to enforce payment, but once enforceable, the Court will go back to the date of filing, (sometimes even an earlier date) and calculate what should have been paid as child support and require that amount be paid.

Arrears of child support are payments that have been ordered and remain unpaid. Florida has no statute of limitations on this obligation, so the parent receiving support can go after the obligated parent years after the initial order was entered, and can pursue enforcement until all back child support is paid. Parents wanting to enforce the payment of arrears can file a motion for contempt with the court. A hearing will be held, and the parent will either have to pay a specified amount or face the prospect of jail time. License suspension and asset seizures are also ways the court can compel compliance.

Retroactive Support

By contrast, retroactive child support refers to the amount a judge can order to cover a period of time before the child support order was issued. In other words, retroactive child support is intended to cover some of the time the parent had to support the child before the other parent was required to do so. Under Florida law, the maximum amount of time a court will go back is two years from the time the petition was filed, or the age of the child, if the child is less than two years old. This rule puts the burden on the parent providing the bulk of the financial support to take action on child support as quickly as possible.

Seek Legal Advice

Regular child support is critical to your child’s well-being, and if your ex is not paying, talk to the Port St. Lucie child support attorneys at Baginski Brandt & Brandt about pursuing back child support. We have the knowledge and resources your family needs to get the support you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation.




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Port St. Lucie 8483 S. U.S. Highway One
Port St. Lucie, Florida 34952
Stuart By Appointment Only 100 SW Albany Ave., Suite 300k
Stuart, FL 34994
Fort Pierce By Appointment Only 311 S 2nd St., Suite 102b
Fort Pierce, FL 34950
Telephone: 772-466-0707 Fax: 772-223-9290 or 772-466-0907 Office Hours: 8:30 to 5:00pm M-F