This Is the Main Difference Between Alimony and Child Support

2 min


Divorce is never an easy process to go through. It requires adjusting to a new life relatively quickly. And because it’s such a complicated process, it’s best to get lawyers involved to ensure as smooth a split as possible.

One of the most contentious parts of a divorce is money. Without the help of a lawyer, money discussions can become heated quickly. An attorney can help navigate this sensitive process.

When getting a divorce, many people have questions about who will pay whom. Many confuse the difference between alimony and child support. While they are both forms of payment in a divorce, they are different from each other.

This is what separates alimony from child support.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is often called “spousal support” and should not be confused with child support. This is money that the ex-spouse—considered the breadwinner of the marriage—is ordered by the court to pay the other spouse.

The point of these payments is to cover potentially unjust division of assets. In a marriage, both partners have a duty to share the support equally. Alimony payments reflect that belief.

All courts follow general guidelines nationwide on alimony. But jurisdiction does affect alimony calculating alimony payments.

Courts take into account the level of responsibility the recipient has taken within the home. As well as any financial burdens that benefit the spouse during the duration of the marriage.

Alimony payments have no restrictions and whatever the receiving spouse deems fit.

What Is Child Support?

The financial obligation a parent has to a child is considered child support. The parent with custody receives payment, used solely to take care of the child or children. These are deemed necessary expenses for the wellness of the child or children.

Most child support payments purchase food, clothing, education, and health care for the child or children. Whatever needs deemed necessary to raise the children and maintain a similar standard of living should be covered by child support payments.

This is why payments differ with every case and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Income, medical expenses, schooling expenses, and daycare all factor into the amount of child support. Judges determine the amount of child support payments case by case.

Child support is typically due each month for a mandated period of time. Understanding child support before going into divorce discussions can make the process easier. Both parties should know what to expect, so there are no contentious surprises later.

Understanding the Difference Between Alimony and Child Support

While both of these forms of payment can be the result of a divorce, the two are very different in characteristics.

Understanding the difference between alimony and child support before going into divorce discussions can make the process easier for those involved. Knowing the difference and the financial obligations lead to fewer surprises.

If you have specific questions, it’s always best to contact your attorney.

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