Alimony vs. Child Support: The Facts

Alimony vs. Child Support: The Facts

The main difference between alimony and child support is the presence of children. Your divorce settlement may require you to pay both alimony and child support, but they are different and you should know where those payments are meant to go.

Alimony, or “Spousal Support”

Alimony is meant as a financial obligation a court orders to support a spouse who would otherwise be in extreme financial straits after a divorce. You may qualify if your former spouse stayed home to parent or has not had work experience for a long time because you were supporting them. Some short facts about alimony:

  • Alimony can be ordered in one lump sum payment, or payments over a designated period of time. It is meant to support a lower-earning spouse to provide them with some financial stability that they would otherwise lose after a divorce.  
  • It can be ordered for a legal separation as well.
  • You do not have to have children to be awarded alimony.
  • Usually it ends when the alimony recipient gets remarried, moves in with someone else, or it is ordered indefinitely.  
  • The state you live in and the orders of the court will be the main factors in determining your alimony situation.

Exactly as it Says

Child support is quite literally what it entails. The money a non custodial parent pays to a custodial parent for child support is meant to provide for food, clothing, shelter and any other necessities. Usually the payments end around the child’s 18th or 21st birthday, it is always dependent on the state regulations and the court order.

Main Differences Between the Two

  1. Child support is for children, alimony supports the ex spouse.
  2. Child support only covers children produced from the marriage.
  3. A lower-earning spouse may be assigned child support obligations because it depends on who has custody not on income.
  4. Alimony is considered taxable income and child support is not.
  5. Missing or refusing to make payments on child support can result in serious legal consequences because it is considered criminal in some states. Missing an alimony payment is not.
  6. Alimony is awarded in most states only if the marriage endured for ten years or more.
  7. You only need to establish that a child resulted from a relationship before, during or after marriage as long as both parents are biological or adoptive.

The court will always consider the best interests of the child in all their decisions. Finances are particularly important because the court wants to ensure that the child will not be suffering as a result of their parent’s divorce. If you have questions about potential alimony or child support payments, you should contact a family lawyer Bloomington IL relies on to discuss your particular case. Call today for a consultation and sort out your financial obligations for the better.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Pioletti & Pioletti for their insight into family law.


Greenberg Law Offices