Currently in Florida, the amount and duration of spousal support are determined on a case-by-case basis, and courts are not required to use any special guidelines when ordering alimony payments. If a spouse requests an alimony order through the court, the spouse must first prove that there is a need for support before a court order can be issued.
Child support is different, however. By law, children are entitled to support from their parents. There are child support guidelines that must be used to calculate a base amount of support, and the guidelines take into account the following factors:
- The number of children to be supported
- The cost of child care and health care for the child
- Both parents' incomes
When these matters are calculated using the guidelines, a basic monthly support amount is generated. This baseline amount is meant to be fair to the parents and also adequate to the child's needs.
In many cases, though, the appropriate amount of child support is higher or lower than the amount generated by the guidelines. For example, a child with special needs may require medical care, therapy or special education services, and these costs can be calculated to raise the amount of child support.
If your child requires support for special needs that are not covered by the guideline amount, then you may want to speak with a child support lawyer about calculating and requesting the appropriate amount.
Likewise, if there has been a change in financial circumstances for either parent -- for example, job loss or promotion -- then a child support attorney can advise you of your options for modifying an existing child support order.
One of our previous posts has more on how caring for a child with special needs can affect child support, spousal support and property division.