Alimony versus child support; will you have to pay your Ex?

alimony vs child support

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Money. It’s a gas.

It’s also one of the top reasons for divorce in Canada, and why divorce is often such a meticulous, difficult process. 

Divorcing couples who did not get a prenup (also known as a marriage agreement) often have a difficult time coming to an agreement on who gets what. 

Add kids into the mix, and things can get pretty tricky. 

When there is a discrepancy between your personal income and that of your spouse, things can get even trickier. 

In many divorces, one partner may have to pay the other on a monthly basis. These payments are generally broken into two categories: spousal support (alimony) and child support.

Many people confuse the differences between what is alimony and what is child support. 

The key difference is the intended use of each payment. Alimony is paid for the benefit of a spouse; child support is paid for the benefit of any children resulting from the marriage.

What is Alimony? (Spousal Support)

Alimony is money paid to an ex-spouse after a divorce or separation. 

In family law, we call this spousal support or maintenance. 

In most cases, alimony must be paid when one partner is the sole earner in the relationship or earns significantly more income than the other. 

This might not sound fair, especially if you’re the one who has to pay. 

The reason alimony exists is because the partner earning less income presumably entered the marriage or union under the pretense that they would be financially supported by their spouse.

In practice, this often occurs when one partner in the marriage is a stay-at-home parent. Many parents remove themselves from the workforce entirely to raise their children, and as a result, they often become less employable as a result.

After a divorce, if this parent were to apply for jobs, they’d likely find that their ability to earn is greatly reduced. 

This was a sacrifice made under the assumption that their spouse would provide financially for the family until retirement – but now that is no longer the case. 

Because of this, if you earn significantly more than your spouse, there is a chance that you will need to pay them alimony. 

Check out our article on spousal support for a more in-depth explanation of alimony.

What is Child Support? Alimony vs Child Support

The other type of payment you may need to send to your spouse is child support. 

Child support is designed to be used to meet the basic needs of the child. That includes things like food, clothing, medical care, housing, and other necessities.

mother seeking child support for her two children

Child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. Often, if you have joint or split custody of your kids, you won’t need to pay child support, since you’re already directly providing for them on a regular basis.

If you’re in doubt about the differences between alimony and child support, and your obligations regarding either one, a divorce attorney can be an invaluable source of information.

Even if you have yet to initiate divorce proceedings, an attorney can advise you on the best course of action to take with requesting or paying spousal or child support.

Call our office today or fill out our contact form to get started.

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