Domestic Support Obligations in Florida — Child Support and Spousal Support

A common contested matter in a Florida family court case is domestic support obligations. Different laws govern child support and spousal support in Florida. It is crucial for your future that you understand the factors used in each situation to determine how much money you will pay or receive each month in support payments. Our Palm Beach Gardens support attorneys aggressively fight to ensure our clients’ best interests are protected.

How is Child Support Calculated in Florida?

It is the responsibility of each parent to provide financially for his or her child. Child support laws are designed to ensure each parent contributes a fair amount to the upkeep of their child (i.e. food, clothing, shelter, education, etc.). In the majority of cases, if there is a minor child involved, the court will order child support payments.

Florida has adopted standard child support guidelines that determine the financial responsibility of each parent. Pursuant to the state’s child support laws, the parent who has the child for the majority of overnight visits in a year typically receives child support from the other parent. Child support is calculated in Florida based on the income of each parent, overnight time spent with the child, and the number of children.

Even though the guidelines are straightforward, the court may consider other factors when calculating child support including medical expenses, daycare costs, taxes, and other financial issues. Therefore, hiring an experienced Palm Beach Gardens child support attorney can ensure that you are receiving or paying the correct amount based on your financial situation.

How is Spousal Support Calculated in Florida?

Spousal support or alimony is awarded when one spouse has a financial need for support after a divorce, and the other spouse has the financial means to pay support. Alimony is not a “guaranteed” element of a divorce. There are no “alimony guidelines” in Florida like the state’s child support guidelines. Therefore, a judge uses factors to determine if spousal support is justified when a marriage ends.

In addition to the financial needs and financial resources of both parties, factors that a judge may consider when deciding whether alimony is justified include:

  • The standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The emotional and physical health of each party;
  • The ages of the parties;
  • The education level, earning capacity, and vocational skills for both spouses;
  • The anticipated length of time it will take for a party to either obtain training or education to find suitable employment;
  • The contribution of each spouse during the marriage (i.e. child care, homemaking, contributions to the career of the other spouse, etc.);
  • The time-sharing and parenting plan for minor children;
  • The tax consequence of awarding alimony for each party; and,
  • And any other relevant factor the judge deems applicable to the issue of alimony.

Once a judge decides that alimony is justified, the judge must determine the type of alimony to award. The types of spousal support awarded in Florida are:

  • Durational Alimony provides financial assistance for a set period.
  • Bridge-the-Gap Alimony provides financial assistance for up to two years while the spouse transitions out of marriage to a single lifestyle.
  • Rehabilitate Alimony provides financial assistance while a spouse obtains the necessary education or training to find suitable employment.  The spouse receiving spousal support must submit and adhere to a rehabilitative plan.
  • Permanent alimony is usually awarded when the spouses have been in a long-term marriage, and the factors above warrant ongoing permanent support.

Each type of spousal support terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving the support. It can also be terminated due to the receiving party’s cohabitation with someone who is assisting with the receiving party’s financial situation.  Because there are no guidelines for calculating alimony, the judge calculates the amount based on the facts of the case. Alimony should be reasonable. It helps to have an experienced Palm Beach County alimony attorney representing you to ensure that all factors and relevant information are considered when determining the type and amount of alimony to be awarded.

Get Help with Your Domestic Support Obligations from a Palm Beach Gardens Support Attorney

Whether you are paying support or receiving support, you deserve to be treated fairly and justly by the judicial system. Contact the Law Offices of Paul J. Burkhart, PL to discuss your case with an experienced domestic support obligation attorney.

Contact our office by email at paul@paulburkhart.net or by telephone at (561) 880-0155. We represent clients throughout the Palm Beach County, Florida area.