Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Support

Alimony is the payment made by an individual to a former spouse after a divorce. It’s also known as maintenance payment or spousal support.


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The payment is made by the financially stable partner to the conditional spouse. Besides, partners can agree on who will receive alimony without going to court.

Key Takeaways

  1. Alimony is a financial obligation to provide monetary support to a former spouse following a divorce or legal separation; spousal support is a broader term that encompasses alimony and other forms of financial support during a marriage or partnership.
  2. Both alimony and spousal support involve financial assistance to a spouse or former spouse. Still, alimony refers to post-divorce support, while spousal support can apply during a marriage or partnership.
  3. Alimony and spousal support are intended to maintain a certain standard of living for the dependent spouse, ensuring financial stability and equitable distribution of resources following the dissolution of a marriage or partnership.

Alimony vs Spousal Support

Alimony refers to the financial support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. Spousal support refers to any type of financial support that one spouse provides to the other and includes other types of support such as child support, health insurance, and even mortgage payments.

Alimony vs Spousal Support

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The recipient spouse will be taxed whether alimony is executed through court order or agreed upon. The payor spouse is also subject to tax.

Spousal support is the amount given to recognize the spousal contribution to the marriage. Finance helps the recipient to enjoy financial independence.

Spousal support is provided in connection with divorce cases. It is subject to making decisions separately.  Each case is different from the others in terms of marital support analysis.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonAlimonySpousal Support
Type of supportLump-sum alimony, reimbursement alimony, permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, separation alimonyTemporary support while the divorce is pending, short-term and rehabilitative support, Long-term or permanent support, reimbursement support
DefinitionThe payment is given to a spouse while the divorce is pendingAssistance recognizes the spouse contributed to the marriage
Who qualifiesIt is given to a spouse out of work during the marriage. The pay can be modified depending on the ability to payA person who has been in a marriage for a long time, more than 5 years
How long one has to payThe payment duration depends in large on the judgmentThe payment would be short-term if the marriage lasted less than ten years. Permanent alimony last longer than half the length of the marriage
Can it be modifiedIt can be changed or terminated at any time as per the court’s ruleIt can be modified by the court or removed depending on the circumstance


What is Alimony?

A partner’s legal responsibility is to provide financial support to their spouse before and after divorce or marital separation. Alimony is considered in a divorce or separation to offer financial assistance to the other partner with a lower or no income.

Also, it’s meant to help those with no income.

Alimony can be given either to the husband or wife. However, if kids are involved, the father is the beneficiary because the wife has given up looking after the kids.

She, therefore, will have a financial disadvantage.

Several factors determine alimony. First, the court has to choose the spouses’ gross income and then reduce it by subtracting compulsory deductions.

Mandatory deductions include social security, healthcare, and income taxes.


What is Spousal Support?

A husband or wife pays spousal support to their previous spouses following a divorce. The amount is paid monthly and continues for the specified period.

The period can extend to years or the remaining life of the defined parties.

The following requirements are to be met for payments to be satisfied and considered spousal support. The price has to be either cash or check. Assets and debts.

The payment will not be considered spousal support.

The payment has to be remitted in a divorce or written agreement. Any payment made before the divorce or agreement is not considered.  And if one spouse is married or dies, the income stops.

spousal support

Main Differences Between Alimony and Spousal Support

  1. Qualifications – The partner should have been out of work to qualify for alimony during the marriage. The partners must need financial aid from the divorced or separated husband. Her income should also be less. Maintenance can be adjusted depending on the capacity to pay. Persons who have been married for more than 5 years qualify for spousal support.
  2. Duration – With alimony, when children are not involved, the support should continue for ½ to 1 year for each year the spouse stayed together. A court order can terminate spousal support or mutual agreement. The spousal support is undefined if the separation agreement has no end date. In other words, it ends when both spouses agree that it should end.
  3. Factors affecting each – Before alimony is awarded, the age of each spouse during the divorce is considered. The physical and mental conditions of both parties are assessed. The living standard of the couples during the marriage and the future income. With spousal support, the need of each party and the income property of each spouse. Reduction in earning capacity, duration of the marriage, and other applicable factors. Other factors include; any valid agreement between parties, the tax consequences, and the source of income for each party.
  4. Definition – Alimony is the payment issued to a spouse while the divorce is still pending. Spousal support is the payment made to the spouse to recognize one’s effort in marriage.
  5. Termination – For spousal support to be terminated, the spouse paying should seek a court injunction. He should apply for a petition to terminate spousal support with the court Spousal license. Alimony can be terminated or modified by the court under certain circumstances.
Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Support
  1. https://commons.und.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2061&context=ndlr
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25740452
  3. https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1043&context=djglp
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