Is There a Difference Between Alimony and Child Support?

Is There a Difference Between Alimony and Child Support?

Family Lawyer

If you and your ex spouse had a child together during your relationship, you may incur both alimony and child support payments in your divorce settlement. Many do not understand the difference between the two, because individuals can be paying for or receiving both consecutively. Alimony is defined as payments to an ex spouse and is a legal financial obligation that is court mandated. Alimony can be paid out over time or in a lump sum, and is intended to help support the spouse that earns less and is dependent on more than their individual income. Alimony can also be ordered by a court in separation cases. 

Alimony payments usually cease when the supported ex spouse remarries, moves in with another partner, or becomes a parent to another child in a new relationship. Payments are contingent on the state in which you live, your income, and personal circumstances. Child support is defined as financial support paid to the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent that pays for a child’s clothing, food, and every day care after a divorce. Depending on the state, payments usually end when the child reaches the age of 18 or 21. 

Alimony Versus Child Support
Alimony payments exist only to help an ex spouse that depends on their former partner’s income. Child support payments exist only to satisfy the needs of a child of an ended marriage. In order to receive or pay child support, the child must have been born during a marriage. Alimony does not require a marriage. Exceptions can be made in both of these cases depending on the circumstances. For example, if a child resulted from a long-term unmarried couple’s relationship of 10 years, a judge may rule that child support be paid because of the continued dependability of the custodial parent. 

Child support will never be required from the individual with the lower income; this is not the case for alimony. Child support is never taxable, while alimony is. Missing a child support is a punishable crime in many different states across the U.S.; missing an alimony payment is not usually considered a crime and can be handled easily. The two different payment amounts are determined in different ways. Alimony payment is contingent on supporting the spouse who has lower income so that the individual can maintain the same lifestyle that they did while in the relationship. Alimony payments usually require that the marriage lasts at least ten years. With child support, the fact that a couple had a child or children together is enough reason for payments. 

Contact an Attorney
You may want to contact a family law lawyer, like a family law lawyer in Rockville, MD, if you are having trouble understanding or paying your alimony or child support. He or she can help you better understand your rights, ways to appeal payments, and  how to appeal to the court if you are late on your payments.



Thanks to The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into the differences between child support and alimony. 

Greenberg Law Offices