Alimony vs Spousal Support in Florida: What’s the Difference?

When a Florida judge orders one spouse to make monetary payments to the other spouse during or after their divorce, the term that the judge will use is “spousal support.” Florida family courts, as well as many other state family courts, do not use the term alimony anymore. Alimony is an outdated term that essentially means the same thing as spousal support.

Why Is Spousal Support Sometimes Ordered in a Divorce?

If a judge determines that one spouse will have difficulty transitioning financially from married life to single life, that judge may order the more financially stable spouse to pay spousal support to their ex-spouse. Florida is different from other states because it allows the establishment of permanent spousal support payments. While the majority of spousal support orders are temporary, a Florida divorce judge may grant permanent spousal support if one spouse will never be able to earn an income comparable to the income experienced during the marriage.

How Is Spousal Support Calculated in Florida?

Florida family court judges must examine certain factors before handing down a spousal support order. For example, if one spouse is the at-fault party in a divorce, the judge may decide that the spouse should pay punitive spousal support, especially if the at-fault spouse committed adultery during the marriage.

Other things considered by a judge when determining spousal support amounts include:

● Standard of living quality enjoyed by the spouse who is asking for spousal support

● Custodial arrangements when children are involved

● Length of the marriage

● Physical and mental health of the spouse wanting spousal support

● Division of marital assets

● Earning potential of both spouses

Some divorcing couples may agree to a spousal support amount. When they don’t agree, the judge has the final say in awarding spousal support payments.

What Is Child Support, and How Does It Differ from Spousal Support?

Child support payments are made by one parent to the parent who has legal physical custody of the children. Child support is intended to help pay for a child’s clothing, food, health care, and education.

Since child support and spousal support payments are separate from each other, Florida family court judges can order one spouse to pay both child support and spousal support to the other spouse.

The parent ordered to pay child support must fill out an affidavit detailing their income resources. Judges will consider the following when determining the amount of child support payments:

● Salary or wages

● Self-employment income (business income)

● Disability benefits

● Worker’s compensation

● Unemployment compensation

● Social security benefits

● Rental income

● Regular income from estates, trusts, royalties, etc

Divorced spouses making child support and spousal support payments can ask the court to modify payment amounts at any time they incur a loss of income, reduced income, or another issue that prevents them from keeping up with payments. However, be aware that not paying court-ordered spousal support incurs the same legal ramifications as neglecting to pay child support — suspension of driver’s license, wage garnishment, and possible jail time.

Get Expert Legal Help with Your Florida Divorce by Contacting Bergman Family Law

Understanding the various financial obligations a judge could impose on you during a divorce can be confusing and stressful. Having an experienced family law attorney representing you in court means your right to a fair settlement will be litigated to the fullest extent. If you are considering divorce and know child support or spousal support will be part of the divorce settlement, call Bergman Family Law today to schedule a consultation.