Child support is specifically intended for supporting the cost of child-rearing. Alimony helps a former spouse maintain a standard of living that is similar to the one established during the marriage. A judge presiding over a divorce case could order one spouse to pay child support and alimony to the other spouse. Alimony is also referred to as spousal support.
Although alimony and child support are distinctly different, it is possible for a divorced spouse to abuse one or both.
How Is Alimony Calculated?
Ultimately, whichever spouse is the primary earner usually pays alimony. If both spouses equally earn money, then alimony might not be necessary. The main purpose is to make it possible for a spouse who is dependent upon the other’s income during the marriage to maintain the same standard of living following a divorce.
Factors that go into determining the alimony amount include:
- Maintaining a home for the spouse and any children.
- Transportation needs.
- Relative cost of living.
- Participation in extracurricular activities.
- Cost of treatment for ongoing medical conditions.
Many other factors also could go into determining an equitable level of alimony support from one former spouse to the other. Ultimately, it is up to a judge to decide what is fair and equitable.
Limits on Alimony
Alimony is not necessary a permanent obligation. Many factors could arise that cause a change in the support or eliminate it altogether. For example, a spouse who pays alimony suddenly loses a job or goes out of business. A paying spouse might suffer a temporary or permanent disability that greatly affects that person’s ability to continue earning income and paying alimony. Such situations and others that greatly impact a former spouse’s ability to continue paying alimony could result in a reduction or elimination of the alimony support.
Additionally, if the ex-spouse who receives alimony remarries, the new marriage would nullify an alimony order from the prior marriage.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Child support is intended to support any children produced by the marriage. The primary earner usually pays it so that the children continue to benefit from their accustomed standard of living.
A divorce attorney can help either spouse to argue for or against child support payments. The judge presiding over the divorce case will weigh the merits of the arguments that both spouses present and determine a suitable amount of child support, if any.
Many factors would go into determining a suitable amount of child support. Planning for a child’s college education, extracurricular activities, and ongoing health care would factor into child support calculations. Daily needs, including clothing, food, and transportation that the children would need are also included.
A child custody order also would affect child support amounts. The paying spouse might have joint custody and cares for the children about half the time. If so, the child support payment might be about half the amount than it would be if the other former spouse has custody all of the time.
Tax Implications for Support Payments
When ex-spouses pay alimony, those former spouses can deduct the payment amounts from their income for tax purposes. The receiving spouse must declare any alimony support payments as income and pay any qualifying income taxes.
Child support payments are different, though. Child support payments are considered to be tax neutral. The receiving spouse does not have to declare the support payments as income. Because the support payments are supposed to be spent on the children, they are not considered to be income. Likewise, the paying spouse cannot deduct child support payments from annual income declarations.
How to Handle Underpayment or Nonpayment of Support?
If your spouse is paying less than ordered or not paying support payments at all, you can petition the court to order full compliance with the support payments. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you navigate the legal system to file the appropriate complaint and support it with strong evidence.
Underpaying or not paying support payments as ordered by the divorce court is a violation of the law. Unless your spouse has a good reason, like a sudden major illness or injury that affects income, there is no excuse for ignoring court-ordered support payments.
Your attorney can help you to present a strong case that could result in a court order that compels your former spouse to pay past-due amounts and resume scheduled payments in full. Maryland law has many ways to enforce and collect support payments.
What if a Spouse Abuses the Support Payments?
If you are making support payments as agreed, it is possible your former spouse might abuse the payments. Your spouse might spend money intended for child support on something other than your children’s needs. Your spouse also might allow a boyfriend or girlfriend to move into the home and live off the proceeds of your support payments. Doing so would violate the terms of support payments.
Your divorce lawyer could help you document abuse of support payments and petition the court to lower or possibly end the payments altogether. You also might present a strong case for gaining child custody if your former spouse is spending the money on other things and neglecting your children.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Enforce Support Agreements
If you are considering a divorce or having issues with alimony or child support, one of our seasoned Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help. Call us at 443-589-0150 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.