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Child Support V. Spousal Support Orders

Child Support V. Spousal Support Orders

In a recent case of Perez v. Perez, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2016, a husband appealed a nonfinal support order in dissolution of marriage proceedings between him and his former wife. The court reversed the order because it failed to differentiate between child support and alimony. The court found merit in his contention that the order should be reversed because it does not differentiate between child support and alimony. The order required the husband to pay for the rent of the wife’s apartment as well as her moving expenses. But the order failed to identify that support as either alimony or child support.

“Even though temporary relief awards are among those areas in which the trial courts have the greatest discretion,” it is improper for the trial court to fail “to identify which share of the award [is] for child support and which [is] intended to be alimony.” Blum v. Blum, 769 So. 2d 1142, 1143 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000). This is because the child support guidelines are applicable to temporary child support awards and the trial court’s failure to identify a child support award makes it impossible to determine if the guidelines were followed. Id.; Nilsen v. Nilsen, 63 So. 3d 850, 851 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011). In addition, the trial court must make findings regarding the parties’ incomes for purposes of applying the child support guidelines. Nilsen, 63 So. 3d at 851. The trial court failed to make any findings regarding the parties’ incomes. Accordingly, the court reversed the portion of the order addressing support and remand for the trial court to reconsider the issue of temporary support and to make the appropriate findings.

As decided here by second district court of appeals, an order for support must specifically designate what type of support is actually being paid. The court need to make specific findings based on the parties income and overnights to properly determine child support guidelines if the support was meant to be child support instead of spousal support. If the support was meant to be in the form of alimony, the findings need to be based on the parties’ needs and abilities to pay. In order to avoid confusion for future litigation for court ordered alimony, the court need to make specific findings as to the amount to be paid. Any questions regarding spousal or child support please contact our office.

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