Should I Accept More Alimony in Exchange for Less Child Support?



If you are a parent seeking alimony during your Pasadena divorce, you must be aware of the differences between spousal support and child support. These forms of payment from your ex are not interchangeable.

Alimony is money intended to meet the living needs of the spouse who receives it. Also known as spousal support, it is money that a higher earning spouse pays to a lesser earning spouse to allow him or her to become self sufficient after the divorce. Alimony is granted on a case by case basis and is typically only awarded for a defined period of time. Eligibility for alimony sometimes depends upon how long the marriage lasted. Usually, alimony awards will be terminated if the recipient remarries or enters into a relationship that involves cohabitation.

Child support is money that a noncustodial parent pays to the custodial parent to provide for the financial needs of the child, although there are no formal guidelines as to how the parent receiving child support must spend the payment. Parents have a legal obligation to pay child support and there are state formulas used as a baseline in determining what the proper amount of support for the child should be. It does not matter how long the marriage lasted or even if the parents were married at all as far as child support awards are concerned.

There are significant tax differences between alimony and child support. Alimony is considered reportable income for the person receiving it and is a tax write-off for the person making the payments. Child support is not considered income for the recipient, nor is it a tax write off for the person making the payment.

Sometimes, when filing for a Pasadena divorce, a spouse will offer to pay a larger sum of alimony in exchange for getting his or her ex to accept a smaller child support payment. This is an offer that must be considered very carefully. Ask a Pasadena divorce lawyer or a qualified accountant to explain how the offer affects your finances before you make a final decision regarding this aspect of your divorce settlement.