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Alimony and child support: what’s the difference?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2022 | Divorce

Divorce often means that couples have to figure out several financial issues, such as ownership of the home that the couple once shared and how to divide their debts. Divorcing parents must also come up with a plan to support their children. If you’re an Illinois resident, here are some things you should know about whether you’re entitled to alimony or child support as well as the differences between them.

What is alimony?

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is the amount of money one spouse pays to the other after the divorce is final. A judge can mandate alimony for a certain time period or until the spouse receiving alimony marries again.

The purpose of spousal support is to assist the spouse receiving the payments to maintain a lifestyle similar to the one they had during the marriage. Alimony is not automatically given to a spouse; the spouse who wants to receive spousal support must request it.

The courts will consider several factors when determining alimony payments, including the age of both spouses, each spouse’s living expenses, the assets that were split between the couple in the divorce, and how long the couple was married.

Alimony vs. child support

The main difference between spousal support and child support is the intended use of the money. Alimony benefits the spouse while child support benefits the children of the divorced couple. Child support should cover a child’s basic needs such as clothing, food, housing and medical care.

Child support is not taxable income for the parent receiving the payments. These payments are also not tax-deductible for the parent who is paying child support. It’s important for divorcing spouses to discuss these issues as they negotiate a settlement.