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Alimony Vs. Child Support in Florida: What's the Difference?

January 12th • 7 min read

If you are going through a divorce in Florida, there are a lot of factors to consider. This includes the division of assets, the division of debts, and resolving child custody issues. When you are going through a divorce, there is a possibility that money is going to continue to change hands even after the divorce is finalized.

The most common situations where money continues to be paid post-divorce are alimony and child support. It is important for you to understand the difference so that your rights can be adequately protected throughout your divorce proceedings.

alimony child support

An Overview of Alimony Payments in Florida

The first type of payment that may be involved is called alimony. Importantly, alimony is not child support. Instead, alimony is a payment that one spouse pays to the other spouse to compensate for a financial need and that the paying spouse has the ability to pay. There are multiple types of alimony payments, which include:

  • Bridge-the-Gap Alimony Payments: This type of alimony is temporary and limited to a duration of two-years.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony Payments: This is typical in a case where one spouse has chosen to be a stay at home parent and is in need of alimony to obtain better employment credentials, such as, renew a professional license, finishing a college or professional degree or certificate, or other license, certificate, or degree which would allow the spouse to gain self-sufficient employment. This is also a temporary type of alimony.
  • Durational Alimony Payments: This type of alimony is awarded when permanent periodic alimony is not appropriate. This type of alimony is meant to provide one spouse with economic assistance for a set period of time, however, that period of time shall not exceed the length of the marriage.
  • Permanent Alimony Payments: This type of alimony is typically only awarded in long term marriages (meaning longer than 17 years). This type of alimony is permanent, which means it is typically paid until one of the parties dies, or if the spouse receiving alimony remarries.
  • Lump-Sum: Finally, some alimony payments take the form of a lump sum that is delivered at the time of the dissolution of marriage. This lump sum may be designed to cover a major expense that will not recur or it might be better if one spouse simply wants to avoid writing a check every month.

In some situations, the spouses can agree on the amount of alimony and duration. In other situations, each spouse will present his or her side of the story in court and let the court decide. There are also situations where lawyers can negotiate on behalf of each spouse and come to an agreement. It might also be helpful to consult with a trained accountant before making decisions regarding alimony payments.

An Overview of Child Support Payments

The other type of possible payment is called child support. In Florida, child support is usually calculated using a specific formula. This formula usually includes, but is not limited to, the net income of each parent, the number of overnights the child is going to spend with each parent, the cost of a child's health insurance, and the cost of child care.

  • Each spouse is required to file out a financial affidavit and each spouse’s information is taken from the financial affidavit and entered into the Child Support Guidelines. However, in some cases one spouse may seek an imputation of income, which is a request to add additional income to one spouse for a specific reason.

Then, the court looks at how many overnights each individual parent will have. In some cases, child support may not be ordered at all. In other situations, the court may order one parent to pay child support to the other parent for a predetermined amount of time. Typically, this is until the child reaches the age of eighteen (18), however, there are some specific exceptions. Additionally, if child support is order for more than one child then child support can be modified as each child turns eighteen.

Child support is outlined specifically in Florida Statutes 61.30.

Can Alimony or Child Support Payments Be Adjusted Later?

One of the most common questions that people have regarding the divorce process is whether or not child support and alimony payments can be adjusted at a later date.

The answer is usually, yes, both alimony and child support can be modified at a later date after divorce. Typically, when the divorce agreement is finalized, it usually specifies whether or not alimony payments or child support payments are modifiable. On the other hand, if one spouse has a significant, unanticipated, martial, and permanent change in circumstances, then that spouse may seek a modification of alimony, child support, or both.

For example, one spouse may end up landing a great job and decide that he or she does not require alimony payments anymore. In this situation, the parties may agree that alimony payments are no longer needed and can make a written modification to their divorce final judgment, which would stop the payment of alimony.

On the other hand, it is also possible that one spouse may lose his or her job or suffer a major medical expense. In this situation, his or her financial situation may change drastically. In this case, the payments might need to be adjusted. Finally, it is also possible that alimony payments and child support payments have a predetermined date on which they cease. For example, once the child turns 18, child support may no longer be necessary.

Rely on the Help of a Trained Divorce Lawyer in Florida

No matter how amicable a divorce may seem, it is always important to enlist the help of a trained divorce attorney. That way, issues such as alimony and child support can be handled as smoothly as possible. Schedule a consultation with The Law Offices of Leonard R. Ross today to learn about your options.