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Child support cases tend to be emotional and confusing. In best case scenarios, both parents want what is best for the child/children. The problem is, many parents disagree on what is “best.” Luckily, we have the court as a third party to help decide and rule on specific regulations that should be set in place to make sure the child/children are taken care of to the best of both parents’ capabilities. To help you navigate these regulations and possible outcomes, Mellany Marquez-Kelly will be with you every step of the way. We will guide you through the process, so nothing comes as a shock, and you are fully prepared for what to expect in a child support case.
Child Support: Income Shares Model
At the heart of child support determination is the assessment of the ability of the parent with the majority of the time-sharing to pay for the child’s everyday needs. These necessities can specify a number of categories, such as education, food, clothing, health care, living quarters, and much more. The state of Florida follows the “Income Shares Model”. In summary, this means the courts estimate the amount each parent would spend on their child/children if the family were still living together in one household. This configured amount is then divided between the two parents, based on their respective incomes. The court will look at the incomes of both parents, as well as their liabilities and regular expenses, and make a fair decision based on all factors. While there are guidelines in place for how child support is calculated, it is not always cut and dry. There are many outside factors that go into the calculation, such as taxes, daycare expenses, medical expenses, etc., and this is why these child support cases tend to be confusing for those who are not well-versed in the process.
In Florida, after the decision has been made, either parent can choose to contest the determination of child support, but the judge rules on actual need and bases the decision on a mathematical formula. With these rules in effect, parents cannot simply decide what they wish to pay in Florida. Both parents are also required to contribute to the financial needs of the child/children.
Custodial and Non-custodial Parents
While the two seem to be closely related, child support and visitation are completely separate from one another. It is a law that the parent required to pay child support makes the payments in a timely fashion and remains consistent. The parent receiving child support, however, should keep in mind that possible issues arising in the child support payments should not affect the visitation of the non-custodial parent. It is equally as important for the child to receive regular face-to-face time with both parents as it is for them to have necessary financial support for their daily living.
On the other hand, the parent paying the child support should remember they are doing so in order to take care of the child/children he or she shares with the custodial parent. The required child-support is by no means a form of punishment, but a necessary route taken for their child/children to live the lives they have grown used to while the family lived in one household.
Alimony is another law in the event of a divorce that can be very tricky for people to navigate without the help of an effective lawyer to guide them through the process. Alimony payments in Florida are based largely on both the length of the marriage and the income potential of both former spouses to earn. Alimony can be granted to either party, depending on whose income is lower. Typically, alimony is paid by the higher-earning former spouse to the lower-earning former spouse until he or she has established the means to support him or herself. This establishment can be in the form of earning a higher income, receiving a large lump sum of money, or a remarriage.
Alimony may be awarded to bridge-the-gap (help a former spouse go from being married to being single by allocating the funds essential to pay foreseeable bills conducive to re-starting a life as a single person), be rehabilitative (get the former spouse to a self-supporting position where he or she can take care of necessary expenses without outside assistance), for a specific duration of time, permanent, or any combination of these forms.
Durational alimony is typically awarded in the event of a short or moderate-term marriage, and the payments should not exceed the length of the marriage. In contrast, permanent alimony is usually granted to moderate or long-term marriages. This alimony is awarded when the former spouse is incapable of maintaining the lifestyle they had when they were married. While the alimony is classified as “permanent,” it is possible for a party to modify the alimony if significant life changes, such as income or later marriage, have taken place since the court decision. Whatever the purpose may be, alimony can be ruled to be paid monthly, in a lump sum, or some combination of the two.
Three Classification of Marriage Lengths
On top of monetary factors during and after the marriage in question, the length of said marriage is also a very important determining factor is the court’s decision to grant alimony. Marriage lengths have three classifications: short, moderate, and long-term. A short-term marriage is classified as lasting fewer than seven years. A moderate-term marriage is one lasting anywhere between seven and seventeen years. A long-term marriage is any marriage lasting more than seventeen years. After the court has determined that there is a need for alimony and ability to pay, the court will look to Florida Statute 61.08 for other determinant factors, such as age of each spouse, physical condition of either spouse, standard of living that each spouse experienced while married, contributions each spouse made to the marriage, etc., in making the final alimony determination.
Mellany Marquez-Kelly knows the stress and confusion that come along with divorces and figuring out alimony payments. Possessing the means to continue the lifestyle you are so used to is important, and we will be there for you to make sure you are receiving the best possible outcome in the court’s decision.