What Is the Difference Between Alimony and Child Support?
The simple answer to the question What is the difference between alimony and child support is that alimony is a payment made from one spouse to the other for various issues involving support or deserved monetary award. In comparison, child support is a payment from one spouse to the other to help pay for the care of a couple’s minor children. Let’s take a detailed look at each type of support.
Alimony: Each state has its own set of guidelines for alimony, so that this blog will focus on Florida. There a six types of alimony or, as more recently termed, spousal support available in Florida:
- Temporary alimony is awarded during the divorce litigation and ends immediately when the divorce is final. It is used to help a spouse maintain such needs as mortgage payments, child care, health costs, and household expenses.
- Permanent alimony is a monthly payment awarded to a spouse, often from a long-term marriage (over l7 years), as often recompense for a spouse who has stayed home to raise children or a spouse who worked to put the other spouse through school such as medical or engineering. The payments last for the lifetime of either spouse but will stop if the receiving party remarries or enters into cohabitation with a non-relative.
- Lump-sum alimony is a one-time payment made immediately following the final judgment. No more alimony can be asked for. A lump sum is often used to buy out a spouse’s share in a business or some type of investment.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to help the recipient transition from a marital lifestyle to being single. It is awarded for two years and no longer.
- Durational alimony is awarded for a specific amount of time, not to exceed the length of the marriage. Remarriage or non-relative cohabitation will cancel this type of alimony.
- Rehabilitative alimony is used to help a party learn a skill or receive an education designed to allow for employment able to be supportive in nature. A rehabilitation plan, including the time needed and cost, must be drawn up. Should the recipient not follow the plan or finish early, this type of alimony will end.
Child Support in Florida is mandatory for parents of all minor children (children between the ages of birth to l8 years and longer for children who for physical or mental reasons cannot support themselves), biological or adoptive whether the couple married, lived together, or just created a baby. Family Law Statutes outline how to determine which parent receives child support and the amount of child support to be paid. Either parent can be awarded child support. If circumstances drastically change following the final judgment, such as increased or decreased earnings or health of parents or child, either party can return to court to ask for a modification. Three effects must be present, substantial, material, and unanticipated before the divorce change for a judge to award a modification.
As you can see, both alimony and child support are forms of financial payment from one spouse to the other, but each is very different from the other. It should be noted, however, that alimony will be included in a party’s income, so this may influence the amount of child support paid or received.