When a couple dissolves their marriage, one primary element of the divorce agreement involves one or both types of support:
- Alimony (also called spousal support) paid by one spouse to the other, and/or
- Child support if the couple has kids.
Because child support and alimony will affect the family financially for years to come, divorcing spouses often have many questions regarding who will be required to pay, and how much, and for how long.
Alimony or Spousal Support
Alimony is intended to limit an unfair economic impact resulting from divorce by providing income to the spouse who earns lower or no wages. This type of financial assistance may support the decisions that were made during the marriage that led one spouse to earn less money. For example, one spouse may have chosen not to pursue a career to instead care for the family. It may also be used to continue the spouses’ standard of living during marriage.
How is alimony determined?
Spousal support is not awarded in every divorce agreement. Most states base alimony rules on The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which recommends the courts determine spousal support awards based on important factors. These factors may include:
- The length of the marriage,
- Any children involved,
- Each spouse’s age, health, and financial status,
- The extent to which the supported spouse contributed to financial success of the other spouse
- The lower-earning spouse’s ability to become financially self-sufficient,
- The couple’s prior standard of living and how it may change post-divorce, and
When determining whether to away spousal support, the court will also consider the ability of the higher-earning spouse to provide financial support to the would-be alimony recipient.
When might temporary spousal support be appropriate?
Temporary spousal support preserves the status quo by providing recipients with sufficient income to maintain their lifestyle until they can make changes to improve their financial situation. Temporary support is sometimes awarded when one spouse is unemployed or earning significantly less than the other spouse but has the ability to increase his or her income in the future.
Non-custodial parents – meaning parents who do not have custody of the children – are required by law to help cover their children’s expenses. The court determines this monthly allowance, called child support, based on the non-custodial parent’s income. Even if parents have joint custody of their children, one parent may still be ordered by the court to pay support to the other, especially if there is a big difference in the parents’ incomes.
How is child support calculated?
Many states calculate child support payments using a complex algebraic equation. This formula uses factors including parent income, number of children, and others. Support payments are based on an approximation of the amount of money a parent would have theoretically spent on the children if the divorce had never taken place.
How is child support paid?
Family support payments are generally paid on a weekly or monthly basis and are required to continue until the youngest child reaches a specified age (the age varies by jurisdiction). The courts will impose fines and possibly jail time if a parent fails to keep up with payments.
Getting Legal Assistance
If you’re facing divorce, you likely have many questions about alimony, child support if you have kids, and much more. At Divorce Done Right, we’re committed to providing answers for couples and families as highly-qualified and experienced attorneys in their area.
We can help you move through the process efficiently and successfully. Call (866) 337-4448 or fill out our online form to schedule a confidential consultation.