The difference between alimony and child support

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2023 | Family Law

After a divorce, a California judge may award you alimony and child support payments. While these payments are designed to help you make ends meet as a single parent, there are significant differences between the two. Failing to use a source of aid for its intended purpose may result in additional court hearings or other negative consequences.

Understanding Alimony

Alimony is also referred to as spousal maintenance and is intended to help you maintain a reasonable standard of living. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may receive payments indefinitely. However, it is also possible that you will only be eligible for alimony payments until you are able to complete your education or take other steps to obtain employment. As a general rule, you can use these payments in any way that you see fit.

Understanding child support

Child support payments are specifically designed to ensure that your child’s needs are met. In some cases, this may mean that you can use them to acquire items that you would use yourself such as a new car or a new computer that your kid will spend time on during the school year. However, you cannot spend money on personal items that wouldn’t help make your child’s life easier in any way. The other parent’s support obligation will typically end when your child turns 18 or otherwise reaches the age of majority.

Your age, income and status as a custodial parent will likely be taken into account when determining if you’re eligible for alimony or child support payments. Bank statements, tax returns and other documents may be used during divorce proceedings to further bolster your chances of obtaining financial support from your former spouse as part of a settlement.