Dividing Up Awards of Alimony and Child Support in Your Florida Divorce

When your spouse or you decides to file for divorce, the issues may seem straightforward, regardless of whether or not they are contested. You may have to resolve matters surrounding child custody and timesharing, child support, alimony, and the distribution of marital assets. Even if these issues do seem straightforward at first, do not fall into the trap of thinking that this necessarily means that you do not need experienced legal counsel. Any of these issues may present within it nuanced elements of the law. For example, in a child support and alimony case from this spring, the Second District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court order obliging the husband to pay for his wife’s moving out and obtaining a new apartment. The husband’s appeal succeeded because the way the trial court structured the obligation did not comply with the specific requirements of the law.

The case involved the dissolution of the 15-year marriage of J.P. (husband) and O.P. (wife). The couple had two children, twin sons born in 2005. In issuing an order resolving the wife’s request for temporary alimony, child support, and possession of the marital home, the trial court gave the husband the exclusive right to the couple’s marital home but also ordered him to pay for the wife to rent “a reasonably-priced apartment,” as well as pay her moving expenses.

The husband appealed and won on the issue of the apartment and the moving expenses. On the surface, the trial court’s order might have seemed reasonable enough if the wife had a need for this money, and the husband had an ability to pay. So why did the husband win? He won because the trial court simply ordered him to pay for the apartment and the moving expenses with no categorizations. It did not state a basis under which the husband was obligated to pay. Was this obligation alimony? Was it child support? There was no way to tell.

The reason this was important related back to child support. That’s because the law imposes a strong presumption that the amount stated in the child support guidelines is the appropriate amount of child support. That strong presumption exists even in a situation, like this case, involving temporary child support. The rent and moving expenses were either temporary alimony or temporary child support. Without knowing whether those rent and moving expense payments were child support, the appeals court could not judge whether or not the trial court applied the guidelines as required by the law.

This case closely resembled a South Florida case from 2011, Nilsen v. Nilsen. In that case, the trial court ordered the husband to pay the wife a monthly $5,000 lump sum for both alimony and child support. That award was also reversed because, as in this case, the appeals court could not determine, based upon the lumping together of alimony and child support, whether the trial judge had properly followed the law regarding child support.

Any case, whether seemingly complex or straightforward, can turn in a direction that requires a detailed knowledge of the many nuances of the law. By retaining the skilled South Florida child support attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A., you can have the benefit of our many years of experience on your side. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

Calculating Child Support in Florida When a Parent Has Been Recently Fired or Laid Off, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, July 27, 2016

Use of Wrong Basis for Contesting Child Support Modification Costs South Florida Mom, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Dec. 17, 2015

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