What Is the Difference Between Alimony and Child Support?

Are you trying to figure out the difference between alimony and child support? If yes, you should check out our guide here to learn how they compare.


Did you know that the rate of divorce in the United States is 2.9 cases per 1,000 population?

If you were recently part of this divorce statistic and are dealing with things like alimony and child support, you might be feeling overwhelmed. Some people use the words interchangeably, but there is a difference between alimony and child support.

Keep reading to learn more about alimony vs. child support.



This refers to the money paid by the ex-spouse that was the “breadwinner.” The breadwinner pays their ex a certain amount to help cover any unjust division of assets. The court system decides on the final amount, depending on income and local laws.

Once the amount is finalized, it can never change no matter if finance situations change in the future. With alimony, the ex-spouse that receives the money will have to pay tax on this because it is considered an income stream.

The person paying the alimony also has the right to write off the amount they pay in their taxes. 

Alimony money, unlike child support, can be used for whatever the ex-spouse wants to use it for. Child support, on the other hand, has to be used solely for the care of the child or children. 


Child Support

Child support payments, unlike alimony payments, are paid to help support the parent that has custody over the children. The court decides what these payments are, depending on how often each parent is with the child, both parent’s incomes, and any other local laws that apply. 

One major difference between child support and alimony is that this money is not taxable. The parent that receives child support does not get charged taxes on the amount. Nor is the parent paying the child support allowed to write the amount off in their taxes. 

Another difference is that the amount received can change. If the parent paying loses a job, they can request a change in child support payment. Same if the parent starts making more money, the other parent can go back to court to request a higher payment amount.

If an ex-spouse does not pay child support or stops paying, the receiving parent has the right to request child support enforcement. This will hold the parent that stopped paying, liable. Child support payments typically continue until the child turns 18 or 21 based on what the state laws are in your area. 


Now You Know the Difference Between Alimony and Child Support

Now that you know the difference between alimony and child support, you can consult an attorney in your area that is familiar with local laws and divorce cases. They will be an invaluable source of information during these stressful times because they will know the best course of action for you to take when it comes to requesting alimony or child support. 

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