In a divorce, one party may be responsible for providing both spousal and/or child support payments. When ordered to pay one, the other or both, the supporting party is responsible for paying the amount ordered by a court of law. Before they have to pay, the amount they’re required to provide is calculated under specific criteria.
Spousal and child support
In a marriage, one or both parties provide financial sustenance for themselves and their children whether it be through employment or personal loans. During a divorce, the highest earning party becomes responsible for maintaining that sustenance in the form of financial support. That type of financial support is divided into child support and spousal support.
Spousal support is monetary compensation given to separated or ex-spouses in accordance with a separation agreement or divorce decree. It more or less allows the ex-spouse to continue supporting their lifestyle after divorcing the supporting party.
On the other side, child support works much like spousal support. It’s the monetary compensation paid by the supporting party to the child’s parent or guardian (the ex-spouse) for the purpose of financially supporting their children. In most cases, the supporting party is responsible for paying child support for all of their children, if they have multiple children.
In regards to how both are calculated, that’s generally decided by the courts. According to federal laws, both types of support are calculated in different ways.
Calculating child and spousal support
Child support payments vary between states, since the calculation formula varies between states. The courts generally take various criteria into consideration when calculating child support payment amounts. Some of those ‘extra’ criteria include:
- A child’s needs, including health care, education and special needs.
- The needs and income of the custodial parent.
- The supporting parent’s ability to fulfill child support payments.
- The child’s standard of living before the separation happened.
As mentioned, each state has their own standards for calculating child support. Both parents are required by family court to provide information (and complete forms) before making a final decision regarding that particular financial support.
Spousal support or alimony is relatively straightforward when compared to child support, since it takes the considerations of the ex-spouse in mind. Alimony is usually awarded to an ex-spouse based on factors like:
- The length of the marriage.
- The time both parties spent separated while married.
- Their age and health at the time of their divorce.
- The income of both parties, including income from other sources.
Besides those factors, spousal support is usually awarded if one spouse has remained dependent on another spouse for a long time.