When couples make the difficult decision to part ways, many will ask: "What's next?" Divorce and the change in living situation for both the ex-couple and children can seem like a daunting task. And, sometimes, alimony and child support is awarded, which can further complicate matters.
Nonetheless, not all divorces have alimony and child support. However, for those that do, it is important to understand the difference, who pays and receives each and why.
Alimony is different from child support and has little to do with children. It is awarded by the court when one spouse is at a financial disadvantage than the other spouse, due to the change in the financial situation when going from married to single.
Often, one spouse will forgo a career and financial success to contribute to the marriage in other ways. Alimony can be awarded in the short and long-term to remedy this imbalance.
Child support, on the other hand, is awarded when it is in the child's best interests to do so, and it helps separated parents to share the expense of raising a child. These two aspects are not to be confused for the other, and the funds should be tracked and kept separate from each other, even if one parent is receiving both alimony and child support.
Understanding if one is a candidate to pay or receive alimony or child support cannot always be decided quickly. A divorce will require the spouses to report their financial positions and financial needs before the divorce decree is decided.
This is why it is important to have an understanding of finances before beginning these discussions. It can help to determine a person's needs and the divorcing spouse's needs before beginning the process of asset division.
Source: Family.FindLaw.com, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics," accessed on Sept. 25, 2017