Often, at the end of a child support hearing, the paying party is informed that they owe retroactive child support. The amount covers what they would (i.e. should) have paid since the case began through the date of the final hearing.
For example, suppose a Petition for Support was filed on June 1, 2012 and a hearing was held on September 1, 2012. Suppose that at the hearing, child support is established at $500.00 per month. In Florida, the retroactive child support amount would be established at $13,500.00 ($1,500.00 for the 3 months between the date of filing and the date of the hearing, and $12,000.00 for the 24 months prior to the filing of the Petition). This retroactive child support amount can be reduced if the parties lived together during these 27 months. Additionally, the amount can be reduced if there was any child support paid during these 27 months (or if this period extend beyond the child's date of birth). Typically, the party paying the child support can expect to pay an additional amount (perhaps $20 - $100) per month to slowly pay off the retroactive child support.
A recent Florida appellate case has stated that the retroactive child support amount is not arrearage. An arrearage exists where a person has been ordered to pay child support and has failed to do so. Therefore retroactive child support is NOT to be considered arrearage and is, thus, not subject to IRS income tax refund intercepts.
It is important for the Court to distinguish between retroactive child support and arrearage. Having a child support arrearage can impact your ability to hold a professional license (contractor, lawyer, dentist,.....) and your ability to have a valid passport. If you live in North Florida, please consider consulting with a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney BEFORE your child support hearing.