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 the maintenance payment or spousal support.

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

Alimony vs Spousal Support

The difference between alimony and spousal support is that alimony is the payment given to a spouse through court-order but within a divorce agreement. Spousal support is the amount one has to pay to other support for their financial support following a separation.

Alimony vs Spousal Support

Whether alimony is executed through court order or agreed, the recipient spouse will be taxed. 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 other in terms of spousal 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 qualifiesIs given to a spouse who has been out of work during the marriage. The pay can be modified depending on the ability to payA person who has been in the marriage for a long time more than 5 years
How long one has to payThe payment duration depends in large on the judgmentIf the marriage lasted less than ten years the payment will be short-term. Permanent alimony last longer than half length of the marriage
Can it be modifiedIt can be changed or terminated at any time as per the court ruleCan be modified by the court or terminated depending on the circumstance


What is Alimony?

This is a legal responsibility for a partner to provide financial support to their spouses before and after divorce or marital separation. Alimony is considered in a divorce or separation to offer financial assistance to the other partner who has a lower or no income.

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

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

She, therefore, will have a financial disadvantage.

Several factors determine alimony. To start with, the court has to determine the spouses’ gross income then reduce by subtracting compulsory deductions.

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


What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is the amount of money paid by husband or wife 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.

For payments to be satisfied and considered spousal support, the following requirements are to be met. The payment has to be either cash or check. Assets and depts.

The payment will not be considered spousal support.

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

spousal support

Main Differences Between Alimony and Spousal Support

  1. Qualifications – For one to qualify for alimony, the partner should have been out of work during the marriage. The partners must need financial aid from the divorced or separated husband. Her income should also be less. Alimony 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 considered undefined if there is no end-date in the separation agreement. 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 for termination of spousal support with the court Spousal support. 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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