The Difference Between Child Support and Alimony

Both child support and alimony, different types of financial support, may be included in a divorce settlement if you have children. Here is an outline detailing the particulars of child support and alimony and the major differences between the two.

Child Support

Child support is a payment made to the parent with custody over the child from the other noncustodial parent. This is because the custodial parent is responsible for everything from food to school supplies for the child which can be difficult to fund especially when single. Usually the payments are ended when the child turns 18 or 21, depending on state laws and court order.

Alimony

A spousal support attorney  trusts will explain that alimony is considered “spousal support” that can be ordered by divorce court. This means the higher-earning spouse must pay a sum to the other spouse in order to help them live at a certain standard.

  • Payments usually end once the spouse gets remarried or begins to live with someone, although alimony can be declared indefinitely.
  • Alimony can be ordered during a separation and you don’t necessarily have to have children to receive payments.
  • It could be made in a one time lump sum or in payments over a set period of time.
  • Your state of residence varies in rules regarding alimony and considers court orders.

Key Differences

There are key differences between child support and alimony besides why it is awarded. Some of the many distinctions include:

  1. Child support is supposed to benefit the child in question, alimony is meant to support a former spouse.
  2. Child support depends on custodial responsibility, so the lower-earning parent may can still pay money to the higher-earning parent.
  3. Alimony is not dependent on the existence of children in the marriage, but child support does.
  4. Child support is not taxable, but alimony is taxable because it is considered income.
  5. It is not considered criminal to miss an alimony payment, but missing a child support payment can lead to serious consequences including criminal repercussions in some states.

Determination to Receive Alimony or Child Support

The two amounts of financial support are also determined differently. Alimony relies on the laws of the state of residence the couple lived in when they were married. It is done this way so that the recipient spouse can maintain a certain standard of living after the marriage ends.

  • It is likely that a spouse who stayed at home to care for the house and children will receive money to preserve that situation.
  • The marriage must last ten years at minimum in order to qualify for alimony in most states.
  • Child support awards only require that the couple had children together before, during, or after the marriage as long as both people are the biological or adoptive parents.

The court always considers the best outcome for the child first. This includes any financial award to either of the parents dedicated to the care of the child. The parent holding custody of the child will receive the support so that both parents still remain financially responsible for the child’s care so that it doesn’t fall entirely on the primary parent.