What Is the Difference Between Alimony and Child Support?

Somerville Support Obligation Attorneys at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton Assist Clients with Alimony and Child Support.

Once you and your spouse have made the decision to file for divorce, the process of negotiating a divorce settlement may take time. There are several financial issues that must be resolved, from the equitable distribution of marital property to child support and alimony. Determining child support and alimony payments is a top priority during the divorce process, but there is often some confusion about the difference between the two and who is responsible for making those payments. A dedicated support obligation attorney will guide you through every step of the divorce process, address any questions you may have about child support and alimony, and assist in reaching a settlement.

What Is Alimony?

Also known as “spousal support,” alimony payments are made from one spouse to another, either for a specified period, or until the occurrence of an event that warrants a termination of support. The payments are meant to allow the spouse who is receiving spousal support to maintain a similar standard of living after the divorce. When determining whether to award spousal support, the Court will consider several factors including the following:

  • The earnings of both spouses
  • The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
  • Whether one spouse financially supported the other spouse while they pursued an education
  • The length of the couple’s marriage
  • Each spouse’s age, emotional state, physical health, and financial condition
  • The education and training required by the lesser-earning spouse
  • The employment and earning history, as well as earning potential, of both spouses

In New Jersey, there are five types of alimony that may awarded, including:

  • Pendente lite support: Also known as temporary alimony, this may be awarded early in the divorce process to allow each spouse to maintain the financial position that they enjoyed during the marriage while the divorce is pending. Once the divorce has been finalized, pendente lite support is terminated, and may be replaced by one of the other types of alimony.
  • Rehabilitative alimony: This type of alimony is meant to rehabilitate a spouse who needs financial support to re-enter the workforce. This helps the lower earning spouse obtain the skills necessary to support him or herself. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded for a specific period.
  • Open durational alimony: This type of alimony has no fixed end date. However, the courts generally only order open durational alimony if the couple had been married for at least 20 years. The payments will likely end when the paying spouse reaches full retirement age and actually retires.
  • Limited duration alimony: Also referred to as “durational alimony” or “term alimony,” this ensures that payments are made for a specified number of months or years. This is done to provide economic assistance for time it takes the supported spouse to improve his or her earning capacity to a point where he or she no longer requires financial support. The courts generally order limited duration alimony, if appropriate, when the couple was married for less than 20 years but for no longer than the length of the marriage. 
  • Reimbursement alimony: This reimburses a spouse for financial contributions they made to the education or career advancement of the higher-earning spouse. This may include tuition, costs of living, and other expenses associated with earning a degree.  It is paid in a lump sum to the recipient.

What Is Child Support?

One of the main differences between alimony and child support is for whom the funds are intended.  While alimony financially benefits a spouse, child support is intended to help meet the basic needs of the child, including, but not limited to, clothing, food, housing, medical care, and other necessary living expenses. In most cases, the custodial parent is awarded child support, and the payments are to be used solely for the care of the child. The amount of child support that the supporting parent will be required to pay depends on a number of factors, including the number of children and their respective ages, the income of both parents, the amount of alimony, if any, being paid by one spouse to the other,  the number of overnights attributed to each parent, and the incremental cost of the child(ren)’s healthcare insurance coverage. With all these factors considered, child support is then calculated proportionally between the parents.

The process of financially separating from your spouse can be complicated, so it is highly recommended that you consult with a highly skilled support obligation attorney to ensure your rights are protected and financial obligations are calculated properly.

Somerville Support Obligation Attorneys at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton Assist Clients with Alimony and Child Support

The experienced Somerville support obligation attorneys at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton, LLC can assist you with the implementation, modification, or termination of child support. Call us at 908-800-7676 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. 

Located in Somerville, New Jersey, our attorneys serve clients throughout Central New Jersey, including those in Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Warren County, Morris County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, Union County, and Middlesex County.