Going into a divorce with children, you may initially be wondering how much you will have to pay or how much you can expect to receive from the other spouse once the divorce is over. You probably just lump all the money together in your head, not stopping to differentiate between child support and alimony. But there are some fundamental differences between the two.
The Nature of Child Support
If you were still married to your spouse, both of you would be contributing to the child’s everyday life expenses. The logic is that this should not change just because the parents’ divorce. The fact that the child is not with you on Mondays after a divorce does not relieve you of the obligation to help pay for whatever expenses the child has on Mondays.
Child support is generally calculated with a formula. That minimizes argument; math is what it is. But arguments can happen about what numbers (what income figures) go into the formula for both parents. Most of the fighting is not with the calculation of child support, but rather, what number goes into those calculations.
Child support can be difficult for the payor parent to deal with because there is no law on how most of your child support money is spent by the payee parent; nobody tracks what you pay in child support to make sure that it is being spent directly on the child. This can be frustrating, but it is assumed by the law that the money paid is helping the child, whether directly or indirectly.
The Nature of Alimony
Alimony is much different, and unlike child support, it is not automatically awarded in all cases. Alimony is to allow the party with less financial means, to get back on his or her feet, or to allow that spouse to continue to live the lifestyle that the couple had been living while together, to the extent possible.
The logic here is that people make sacrifices in a marriage; imagine a wife who forgoes her own career to raise a family, maintain a home, or who may even work, without pay, to help the husband’s business. That wife should not now be left with nothing upon a divorce just because the husband was the breadwinner; her sacrifices made his financial success possible.
There is no mathematical formula for alimony; courts will consider the need of the spouses, and the ability of the lesser-earning spouse, to get back on his or her feet financially. Alimony can also be temporary, or allow a spouse to get through school, or may last until a minor child can go to school, allowing a parent to go to work.
Alimony generally cannot be paid for longer than the marriage lasted, although there may be some exceptions to this rule.
Contact our New Jersey family law and divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC today for help with any child support or alimony questions or problems you may have.