If you are parting ways from your spouse, had children together, and ultimately realized that divorce is the right decision, then you will likely have to talk about alimony and child support. Divorce can come along with many financial issues, such as having to split debts and assets that were accumulated during the marriage. Another topic that will have to be negotiated over is child support and/or alimony payments. Whether you are the paying or recipient parent for alimony or child support, it is important that you understand what each entails.
Alimony (Spousal Support)
Alimony may also be referred to as spousal support, and is when one spouse must make financial payments to the other following divorce. The judge may require such payments for a specific during of time or ongoing until further notice. The intention of alimony is to help support one spouse until they can become financially stable on their own. Alimony is not ordered by the court automatically, the spouse who is in need will have to make a strong case for themselves and actively pursue this support.
The spouse receiving alimony is usually the one who earned less during the marriage or had sacrificed in some way in order to allow the other spouse to pursue their career achievements. This spouse may need extra help such as enrolling in a training course or class, especially if they haven’t been in the workforce for many years.
How Alimony Payments Are Calculated
There isn’t a general rule for how alimony payments are determined and calculated. Sometimes, the divorcing spouses are able to reach an agreement between themselves about alimony. However, it isn’t uncommon for each spouse to be protective of their money during this time, as divorce can be expensive. If an alimony resolution cannot be found during mediation or through attorney assistance, then the court may have to decide the arrangement instead. The court may use these factors to decide which spouse should get alimony, for how much, and for how long:
- The income of each spouse and the circumstances of their current employment
- The living expenses for each spouse
- How long the spouses were married
- The age of each spouse
- Which spouse was awarded custody of children
- How assets are to be split in the divorce
How Child Support is Different
The main difference between child support and alimony is who benefits from the monetary payments. For alimony, it is for the direct benefit of the spouse. By comparison, child support is for the direct benefit of the children that were had together within the marriage. Child support funds are paid to the recipient spouse, however, this money is to only be used for the child’s basic needs such as food, clothing, medical care, education, and housing.
If you are a divorcing parent in need of help, don’t hesitate to contact a family law attorney in your area right away. A divorce lawyer in Rockville, MD can be of help during negotiations with your spouse and get you prepared for court hearings.
Thanks to Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law, child support, and alimony.