The stated mission of the Florida Department of Revenue's Child Support Program is "to help children get the financial support they need when it is not received from one or both parents."
Child support orders are based on a variety of factors, including the needs of the child and each parent's ability to support the child. In other words, a parent's child support obligation is based on the given circumstances at the time the order is made. If circumstances change -- such as an increase or decrease in either parent's income -- then a modification of child support may be in order.
Divorce is a rocky road, and often there is a significant span between the day the divorce is filed and the day the divorce is finalized. To get your divorced finalized in Florida, you have to meet certain requirements, which we discussed in a previous post.
In family law and tax law, child support is prioritized over spousal support. That means in situations where the obligor parent (the paying parent) owes child support and alimony, the child support comes first.
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.
Many parents are able to use Florida's child support guidelines and reach an agreement about support payments without having to ask a court to intervene. In other cases, however, court intervention is necessary.
Spousal support and child support are two common aspects of divorce decrees in Florida. Support can also be the source of a lot of frustration for both parties after the agreement is finalized. Many times the spouse who is ordered to pay support is not happy with the amount that was ordered, or the receiving spouse comes to realize that the payment needs to be higher.
In matters of child support, as in decisions related to parenting plans and child custody, the primary concern is doing what is best for the child. Sometimes the parent who receives support feels the amount being paid simply isn't enough, and sometimes the paying parent has doubts about how the money is being spent.
Couples who are having serious trouble with their marriage are sometimes able to work things out through counseling. Misunderstandings and confusion can take hold of a relationship in unexpected ways, and sometimes a counselor is able to help spouses carefully and calmly identify their differences and resolve them.
To get divorced in Florida, you don't have to prove that your spouse is at fault, and your spouse doesn't have to agree to divorce or even participate in the process for the marriage to be legally ended. Florida law provides for no-fault divorce, and you can simply state that your marriage has undergone an irretrievable breakdown. If your spouse chooses not to participate, then it may be possible to get a default judgment in order to end the marriage.