Are Spousal Support and Alimony the Same Thing?

Filing for divorce can be a confusing time in your life.  There are so many details to think about and decisions to make – all the while you are trying to work, take care of your home and family and not fall completely apart emotionally.  It can add to your stress if different terms are used for the same thing.  Alimony and spousal support are the same.

Spousal support is an amount paid to your spouse when you divorce.  It is usually paid monthly, but can be paid in a lump sum, if an amount can be agreed upon.  Lump sum payments are rare, however, and you should not expect to receive one.  Another thing to remember is that spousal support is not as important to the court system as child support and cannot be easily changed once the divorce decree is issued.  Make sure you know what you are getting – or paying – and for how long, before you sign any agreement.

Alimony is usually paid to the spouse who needs financial support as he/she begins their new life.  It is based on the earnings of each spouse, but if the spouses can agree on an amount before they go to court, most judges will allow that amount to be used.  The length of spousal support payments depends on different factors – how long the couple was married and how much each spouse makes are the biggest ones.

Most of the time, when the spouse who receives the support remarries the support will end. Again, if the couple is designing their settlement, this time frame can be negotiated and may end before remarriage.  Attorneys often tell clients that they can expect payments for half as long as the marriage lasted.  For example, if the couple was married 10 years, payments are often made for 5.

For many couples, spousal support is one of the hardest parts of their divorce to agree on.  If one spouse did not want the divorce, he/she may want to receive more (or pay less) than the other.  It is often seen as a way to get back at their spouse for disrupting his/her life.  The problem with fighting for months over spousal support is that you and your spouse are not the only ones involved.

The months of fighting over divorce details involve your children, too.  Keep their feelings in mind as you argue over spousal support.  The sooner a divorce is final, the sooner everyone can move on with their new lives.

If you are currently involved in a divorce and require legal guidance, before you spend thousands of dollars in legal fees, check out our ebook “The Spousal Support Manual.” This ebook details the things you need to know about paying and receiving spousal support during a messy divorce. Understand your rights before the negotiating begins.  Grab your copy here.

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