What Is the Difference Between Child Support and Alimony?

difference between child support and alimony

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Are you going through or preparing for a divorce in which kids are involved? While divorce is never an easy or simple process, in many cases, it becomes even more complicated when dealing with children.

You may be wondering if one spouse will be entitled to alimony or child support during and/or after your divorce. However, you may be wondering what the difference between child support and alimony even is. To learn more about these terms, keep reading so that you can be prepared.

What Is Alimony? The Basics Explained

Alimony, which is also often referred to as spousal support, is an amount that one spouse will pay another for a set amount of time after the divorce. A judge may order that the alimony is paid for a certain period of time or that the alimony is paid until the spouse receiving support remarries. Alimony is typically put in place in order to allow the individual receiving payments to maintain a similar lifestyle than they were during the marriage, monetarily.

This is not granted automatically. The person who needs the alimony must request it. The amount paid and the time in which payments must be made to the receiving member will differ from case to case.

The court will determine the requirements for the alimony payments by considering a handful of factors such as the length of the marriage. The judge will evaluate each spouse’s income and employment situation as well as each individual’s living expenses. They will also consider how certain assets, such as your home and other possessions, were divided during the divorce.

Child Support Explained

Child support is a payment made when one parent pays the other a set amount to help support and benefit any children that resulted from a marriage after the couple has divorced. The purpose of child support is to meet the basics needs of the child, meaning payments are intended for food, housing, clothing, medical care, and other expenses. In some cases, child support is mandated by the court, or court-ordered.

In some cases, if each spouse earns a fairly equal income and the custody of the child is split, then a parent may not be required to pay child support. If child support is required, the amount of time the payments will need to be made may differ. For example, some may be required to pay the other parent until the child turns 18 while in other cases, this money will need to be paid in the form of other things for the child’s benefit, such as college tuition.

Establishing rights regarding which parent receives full or partial custody will also affect the amount of child support required.

The Difference Between Child Support and Alimony Explained

As you can see, the main difference between child support and alimony is that alimony is awarded to support a spouse, while child support is awarded to benefit a child, or children, after a divorce.

For more parenting advice and information, explore our blog today.