Difference Between Alimony and Child Support

Difference Between Alimony and Child Support

What is Alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is money paid by one spouse to the other after separation or divorce. Alimony aims to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing financial assistance to a spouse in need.

Purpose of Alimony

The purpose of alimony is to:

  • Rehabilitate the financially disadvantaged spouse by allowing them to acquire skills or credentials to become financially independent.
  • Compensate for any unfair economic imbalances arising from the divorce.
  • Maintain the receiving spouse’s previous standard of living enjoyed during the marriage as much as possible.

Types of Alimony

There are different types of alimony:

  • Temporary alimony to cover living expenses during the divorce process.
  • Rehabilitative alimony to help pay for education or training for an employable skill.
  • Permanent alimony is ongoing financial support, usually in long marriages.
  • Reimbursement alimony as repayment for supporting the other spouse (e.g. paying for their degree).

Duration of Alimony

The duration of alimony depends on state laws and the specifics of each case, including:

  • The length of the marriage – Generally, alimony lasts longer for long-term marriages.
  • Age and employability – Younger spouses may get shorter-term rehabilitative alimony.
  • Marital standard of living – Courts aim to equalize any major gaps in lifestyles.
  • Ability to become self-supporting – The more capable, the less ongoing support is needed.
See also  Ultimate Guide to Divorce Settlement Agreements: Everything You Need to Know

Tax Implications of Alimony

For divorce agreements executed after December 31, 2018, alimony payments are no longer tax-deductible for the payer or considered taxable income for the recipient as per federal tax laws. This does not apply to pre-2019 agreements.

What is Child Support?

Child support is money paid by one parent to the other after divorce, separation, or other relationship breakdown for the financial care and support of their children when they don’t live full-time with both parents.

Purpose of Child Support

The purposes of child support include:

  • Providing children with the standard of living they would have enjoyed had the marriage not dissolved.
  • Allocating financial responsibility for children to both parents based on ability.
  • Supporting child development costs like health care, education, clothing, recreation, etc.

what’s the difference between alimony and child support?

Alimony, also called spousal support, is financial support paid by one ex-spouse to the other after a divorce to help provide for the recipient’s living expenses and maintain their standard of living.

Child support is money paid by a parent to financially contribute to the care and upbringing costs of their minor child, allocated specifically for the child’s needs rather than the ex-spouse’s needs.

How Child Support is Calculated

Child support calculations vary by state but generally consider:

  • Income of both parents
  • Number of children
  • Percentage of overnight stays with each parent
  • Any special needs or expenses

Many states provide child support calculators or guidelines based on the above factors. Courts have the discretion to deviate from these in unique cases.

See also  Understanding Visitation Rights in Divorce or Separation Cases with Children

Duration of Child Support

Child support typically continues until the child turns 18 years old. However, it may be extended if:

  • The child has special needs.
  • The child is still finishing high school.
  • There are provisions for post-secondary education expenses.

Tax Implications of Child Support

Unlike alimony, child support payments do not have any federal income tax implications. The payer cannot deduct payments from taxable income and the recipient does not pay taxes on it.

Key Differences


  • Alimony is paid to the former spouse.
  • Child support is paid to the primary custodian for child expenses.

Calculation Methods

  • Alimony calculations consider financial need.
  • Child support follows state guidelines based on parental income and custody share.


  • Alimony may be temporary or permanent depending on factors like marriage length.
  • Child support generally lasts until the child turns 18 years old or graduates high school.


  • Alimony can be modified if a financial situation changes significantly.
  • Child support can be reassessed if custody share or parental income changes.

Termination Events

  • Alimony often ends when the recipient remarries or dies.
  • Child support ends when the child turns 18 or 19 and is no longer eligible.

Tax Implications

  • For post-2018 divorces, alimony no longer has federal tax implications.
  • Child support does not have any tax deductions or taxability.


1.Can alimony and child support overlap?

Yes, it is possible to pay or receive both alimony and child support simultaneously. They address different post-divorce financial obligations.

2.Which takes priority, alimony or child support?

Child support takes priority over alimony legally and ethically. A noncustodial parent cannot get out of paying child support even if struggling financially. Alimony can be reduced or waived more easily in cases of hardship to ensure children are supported.

See also  Paternity challenge: how and when to request it?

3.Is alimony always required in a divorce?

No, there is no universal rule that alimony must be paid. Alimony depends on each spouse’s financial situation and ability to provide for themselves after divorce. The greater the disparity between their post-divorce lifestyles and earning capacities, the more likely alimony is.

4.What if someone remarries?

Remarriage of the recipient usually terminates the obligation to pay alimony or makes it modifiable to a lower amount with most state laws. Child support obligations still continue regardless of any remarriage.

5.What if someone loses their job?

A significant change in financial circumstances like the loss of a job could be grounds for an earlier alimony review and modification such as a temporary reduction. This is less likely to impact child support if the noncustodial parent is proactive about finding new employment soon. Custody changes could also alter child support arrangements.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *