child support

Understanding the Difference Between Child Support and Alimony

Two top issues a couple faces during a divorce are child support and alimony. Many people don’t realize that there is a difference between alimony and child support, but it’s essential to know how they differ and if you are entitled to either type of support payment.

Getting divorced requires the disclosure of all financial records for both parties. As the court reviews the financial information, they may decide that one party should receive some support payment. It’s important to know the difference between alimony and child support if you’re heading into the divorce process, and this article will explain the difference between them.

What is Alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered payment to an ex-spouse following a divorce, dissolution, or separation. The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support to the spouse who earns less or sometimes has no income.

The judge determines the amount of the alimony payment, and payments will continue until one of the following events occurs.

  • A date determined by the judge
  • The spouse receiving alimony remarries
  • The court determines that the recipient has not made an effort to become self-sufficient
  • A significant event happens (i.e., the paying spouse retires)
  • One spouse dies

What is Child Support?

Child support is a periodic payment made by the non-custodial parent to contribute financially to the well-being of their children. Typically, the parent who is the higher earner will be required to pay child support payments to ensure that the needs of the children are met. However, if both parents have similar incomes and share custody equally, the judge may decide that child support isn’t necessary.

Employers are required to withhold child support from the paying parent’s wages, and the child support amount is taken out before any other garnishments. And while the non-custodial parent is free to pay more than the court-ordered amount, they cannot pay less.

The judge will determine the amount based on which child support guideline model the state you reside in follows. Payments will continue until:

  • The child turns 18 years old
  • The paying parent dies
  • The paying parent becomes a prisoner or a student and qualifies for the “Nil Rate”
  • The custodial parent remarries or is no longer the primary caregiver
  • The custodial parent no longer requires support payments

Differences Between Alimony and Child Support

Now that you know what each type of support is intended for, let’s examine how they differ.


Unlike alimony, child support requires that there are children from the marriage that has just ended.

To receive alimony, the ex-spouse must be able to prove that they are unable to support themselves. This is not applicable for the issuance of child support which does not require proof.

Who Pays For Each Type of Support?

While the same spouse may end up paying both alimony and child support, that may not always be the case. If alimony is granted, the higher-paid spouse pays alimony. On the other hand, child support may be required of the lower-paid spouse, depending on who the custodial parent is.


When determining if your alimony is taxable, you must look at the date that your divorce was finalized. If it was before December 31, 2018, any alimony payments you receive are considered income, so you must claim them on your tax return. If you are paying alimony and your divorce was final before December 31, 2018, your alimony payments are tax-deductible.

Child support payments are intended to benefit the children of divorced parents. Therefore, the person receiving support does not have to claim it as taxable income on their tax returns, and the person making payments cannot claim payments as a tax deduction.

Non-Payment Penalties

Missing alimony payments is not considered a crime. However, doing so may result in legal implications. Not paying child support, however, is considered a crime, and you may face serious repercussions.

No One Defends Your Interests Better Than Attorney Hunter Fowler

Whether you’re in the midst of a divorce or haven’t yet initiated it, consulting with an experienced divorce attorney can provide you with the information you need about alimony and child support. In addition, they can advise you on the best action you can take with either requesting or paying support payments.

Attorney Hunter Fowler knows that divorce is very confusing and can leave you vulnerable. That’s why you need the best legal counsel to guide you through the process. Throughout the process, he will be by your side, listening to what you want and using all legal means possible to win for you so you can move on with your life.

Contact Hunter Fowler today, and talk to an attorney who listens.