Going through a divorce can be a real challenge. For many people, establishing a new single life requires financial support from their former spouses in the form of alimony, child support, or both. Florida law acknowledges this need and has provisions in place for situations in which couples cannot agree on the terms of the divorce.
Financial Support After a Divorce
If you need financial support after a divorce, it is vital that you understand how alimony and child support are awarded under Florida law.
Florida Law and Alimony Awards
In situations where one spouse has more resources and skills to support themselves than the other, the courts may award alimony as a way to level the playing field. In Florida, there are four types of maintenance—bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent—that may be paid on a monthly basis, awarded in a lump sum, or a combination of the two.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is transitional maintenance intended to help a spouse adjust to being single by allocating the funds to pay the bills associated with starting a new life. On the other hand, the court may order rehabilitative alimony when one spouse needs to pursue an educational program or vocational trade to become self-sufficient. Meanwhile, durational alimony is granted to short to moderate-term marriages when other types of maintenance do not fit the circumstances of the divorcing couple. This type of support is temporary and cannot exceed the duration of the marriage. Finally, permanent alimony is typically awarded to long-term marriages where one spouse cannot support themselves at the same level and standard of living established during the marriage.
The court will consider financial matters when determining alimony, including the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s contribution to the union, and the economic circumstances of both parties. The court may also consider the standard of living during the marriage, acts of marital misconduct, and any other factors the judge deems relevant.
Child Support Orders
A court can order one spouse to pay both alimony and child support. While the court has more flexibility in granting alimony, there is less discretion in awarding child support orders.
In Florida, courts follow the “Income Shares Model” when determining child support. This model estimates the amount of money both parents would have spent on their children if they were still together and then divides it between both spouses based on their income. The amount determined by the child support guidelines is a possible amount that will most likely be ordered by the court. However, the court is allowed to order child support to be 5 percent over or under the amount determined by the guidelines if they believe the circumstances warrant it.
A child support order can be changed if the asking parent can prove there is a substantial change in circumstances. For instance, if one parent were to lose their job or receive a significant raise, then child support modification is available.
Understanding Your Rights – Contact an Orlando Divorce Lawyer
Divorces in Florida can be challenging. If you need help getting alimony, child support, or both, hiring a family law attorney in Winter Park FL can help you get the most out of your divorce settlement. Being informed of all of your legal options is the first step in establishing a secure single life without your former partner.