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Child Support and Alimony: Are There Any Differences?

Dec 6, 2022 | Family Lawyer

Child support and alimony payments are both court-ordered, family-related payments that need to be paid by the parent who isn’t the primary caregiver. Since they’re very similar in their function, for all intents and purposes, child support and alimony payments are exactly the same types of financial obligation. There are, however, some differences between the two.

Alimony Is Court-Awarded

Alimony is a court-awarded payment to help cover expenses related to living independently. Alimony can be paid in one lump sum or in installments over time. It’s awarded based on the needs of the person receiving it and the ability of the person paying it to pay. Alimony is typically awarded in cases where there’s a significant difference in income between spouses, and one spouse needs additional financial support to maintain a reasonable standard of living after divorce.

Child Support Is Court-Ordered

Child support is court-ordered child support payments that one parent pays to help cover expenses related to raising children after divorce. Child support is usually paid by noncustodial parents (those who don’t live with their children) each month in addition to any amount owed for extraordinary expenses like private school tuition or medical bills that aren’t covered by insurance.

The purpose of child support is to help ensure that children have enough money for basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter while they’re growing up, so they don’t suffer from their parent’s divorce. You can have a child support lawyer from a family law firm in Boynton Beach, help you determine your child support amount.

Child Support Is Mandatory, While Alimony Is Not

Under most state laws, courts are required to order child support in all cases where a parent has primary custody of a child; you can have a family law firm in Boynton Beach help you get child support after a divorce. On the other hand, alimony is not mandatory; it’s only ordered if one spouse can’t make ends meet without help from their ex-spouse. A Boynton Beach child support lawyer can help with negotiations of the amount you’re to be paid.

The Payments Are Made to Different People

Alimony is paid directly to the spouse who needs assistance paying bills and expenses, while child support goes directly to the child or children. With the help of your Boynton Beach child support lawyer, you can have the court order both forms of spousal support at once so that you don’t owe more than one person money every month.

Child Support Ends When Children Reach Adulthood or Emancipation

A court orders child support until the child reaches adulthood (18 years old, depending on state law) or emancipation (19 years old, depending on state law). After that point, parents no longer owe this form of financial support unless they were required by the court order to continue paying it past these ages due to special needs resulting from illness or disability that occurred during childhood.

In this case, they would still owe those payments until those special needs were no longer present. If there is no such provision in their divorce decree or separation agreement, parents will stop paying child support once their children reach adulthood, no matter what. When a parent does not meet their obligations, you can get a family lawyer in Boynton Beach, to help resolve child support payments.

Alimony is designed to be temporary, with the expectation that it will cease once the recipient reaches full financial independence. In most states, alimony must end when the recipient gets married (or remarries) or when the receiving spouse dies. You will need a family lawyer in Boynton Beach to present the necessary paperwork for ceasing alimony.

In some cases, alimony can last indefinitely if it’s based on an ongoing need to maintain a lifestyle comparable to what was enjoyed during the marriage. This might mean that an elderly spouse unable to work receives alimony from his/her ex-spouse until death.

Ultimately, there are many similarities between child support and alimony. If you’re in the process of a divorce, either as a paying or receiving party, it’s important to seek out legal advice and guidance on your particular situation to ensure that you get the benefits that you are entitled to. Contact Pyfrom & Reisler, PA today for a family lawyer in Boynton Beach.