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When a couple goes through divorce, the court may require that one spouse pays the other in alimony and/or child support. The purpose of alimony is to achieve a sense of fairness financially, as each spouse gets accustomed to a single-income home. A divorce lawyer, like from Gray & Becker, P.C., can be very useful as the divorce moves forward, to help parents seek the level of child support and alimony that they need in order to take care of themselves and their children. Here are the basics of what you need to know about alimony and child support: 

When Alimony Is Awarded

Alimony, often called spousal support, is usually awarded in circumstances where one spouse makes drastically more than the other. In the eyes of the family law court, they don’t want to see one spouse be placed into grave financial hardship while the other doesn’t have a worry in the world. Alimony is a way to even out the playing field for both spouses as they get used to a new way of living. While the laws for alimony vary based on where you reside, the following are typically influencing factors when deciding if alimony should be awarded: 

  • What the standard of living looked like while the couple was married
  • The financial, physical, and emotional well being of each spouse
  • How long the spouse in need of support would need alimony before they become financially independent
  • The ability of the spouse earning more to support oneself, while also providing payments to the spouse in need
  • The length of the marriage (in short-term marriages, such as under two years, alimony may not be awarded)

Alimony payments often last until a significant change in life circumstances has occurred to either the paying or recipient spouse. Modification of alimony payments may be permitted in situations such as:

  • The recipient spouse has remarried to someone else
  • The judge has decided that enough time has gone by and the recipient spouse should have become self-supporting
  • One of the spouses passes away
  • The children no longer require a parent to be at home full-time
  • The paying spouse has been let go from their job or experienced another unpredictable financial hardship (such as a car accident or medical diagnosis)

About Child Support Payments

By law, each parent has a financial responsibility to support their children. The parents are free to create a child support arrangement amongst themselves without court interference. However, sometimes it’s difficult to negotiate effectively with someone you are divorcing from. So, in the event the parents cannot reach a solution together, they will have to present their side to the judge and await a final verdict. Child support may continue until:

  • The child has turned 18 years of age
  • The child has married
  • The child has been emancipated by the court (a minor child has demonstrated that he or she take care of oneself without parental control)
  • Parental rights were terminated
  • The child is a member of active military duty