Child Support and Alimony: What You Need To Know

If you and your spouse are divorcing and there are children involved, child support and alimony is something you’ll need to think about. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

What is child support?

Child support is monthly payments mandated by the court once you and your spouse are formally separated or divorced and no longer residing in the same house. The court is responsible for calculating the amount that each child support payment will be based on a general state formula, the financial ability of the parent to pay, the needs of the child, and other circumstantial information. You won’t know how much to pay until your final hearing, but your family lawyer can help you figure out how much you might be expected to pay based on the information the judge has.

If you or your spouse is unable to pay for child support, the case can be taken to court where the U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will intervene. Punishment includes fines and prison time depending on the offense. Should either parent’s financial situation be affected so that they’re unable to pay child support, that parent will have to file for a request to modify the child support order, although this request may not always be granted.

What is alimony?

Alimony is payments made by one spouse to support the other after formal separation or divorce. This kind of payment is also called spousal support. The court determines the value of these payments by taking into consideration the financial ability of the paying spouse, the type of alimony to be paid, as well as the financial situation of either party.

Spousal support can be given either in a single lump-sum payment or in recurring payments for a set period or an indefinite period. Certain states terminate the paying spouse’s responsibility for alimony once the other spouse re-marries.

If either you or your spouse is unable to pay, you will have to take the case to court to either have the alimony orders modified or terminated by the judge. You will have to present a solid case and corresponding proof for why the order should be terminated or adjusted.

What else do you need to know?

divorce concept

  • In special circumstances, you and your ex may decide that no child support is required. The judge will have to study your case and decide whether this is feasible or not.
  • Certain states require the paying spouse to acquire life insurance in order for them to maintain consistent alimony or child support payments even after they’ve passed away.
  • Child custody and support are different issues that need to be approached differently — they have nothing to do with each other. For example, you can’t stop paying child support if your spouse suddenly prevents you from seeing your children. Likewise, you can’t restrict your ex-spouse’s access to your children if they’re don’t pay for child support.
  • If either of the above situations happens, you’ll have to take your ex-spouse to court in order to resolve these matters.

Keep this information in mind in the event that you and your spouse decide to divorce, and you have children. Settling child custody and alimony can be tricky if you don’t know what to prepare for.