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Alimony and child support: what’s the difference?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2022 | Blog, Spousal Support

Getting a divorce is a major financial decision since you and your spouse will have to separate assets and accounts. When you decide to end your marriage, you’ll also need to determine who is responsible for certain debts and determine who will receive spousal support or child support. If you’re a Texas resident, here are some important things to know about alimony.

What is alimony?

Alimony is also called spousal support and is the payment from one spouse to the other after the divorce is finalized. The judge may order spousal support for a specific time period, but in many cases, the alimony remains in place until the receiving spouse remarries.

Spousal support is intended to allow the receiving spouse to maintain a lifestyle that was similar to the one they had in marriage. A spouse has to request alimony; it is not automatically granted in divorce.

Alimony versus child support

The main difference between alimony and child support is the way the money should be used. Child support benefits the children, and alimony supports the former spouse. Child support should cover the child’s basic needs, including food, clothing, shelter and medical care. Spousal support allows the receiving spouse to pay household bills and other necessities so that they can continue to be the children’s primary caregiver.

Determining factors for child support payments

State law determines the amount of most child support payments and custody agreements. If you are the paying spouse, you may not be ordered to pay child support if you and your ex-spouse earn similar incomes and joint custody of the children.

State laws also determine how long the child support payments will remain in effect. In most cases, the payments are recurring until the child turns 18, but some non-custodial parents provide tuition assistance as well.


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