If you’re going through a divorce with kids, it’s important to understand the difference between alimony and child support. Both alimony (known in Arizona as spousal maintenance) and child support may be applicable in your situation, but they have different purposes and are determined in very different ways. Keep reading to gain a full understanding of alimony vs child support under Arizona law.
What Is the Purpose?
In Arizona, the state differentiates between child support and alimony. Child support is intended to provide for the child’s needs. Child support is based off of the parents’ incomes, as the goal is to continue to support the child at the quality of life enjoyed before the divorce, regardless of the difference in their incomes.
Alimony or spousal maintenance, on the other hand, is generally considered more temporary than child support. The goal is to help support the dependent spouse as you adjust to life post divorce, particularly if you have given up a career to benefit the family or your former spouse’s career.
How Is Each Calculated?
There is a big difference in the methods used to calculate alimony vs child support. Child support is calculated using strict guidelines set forth in Arizona law. The combined monthly income of both parents is calculated and used to approximate how much was likely spent on the child each month, and then the court will adjust for differences in the parents’ individual income and each parent’s time with the child.
Alimony is a little more difficult to calculate, as the courts don’t have the strict guidelines that they do with child support. Therefore spousal maintenance is a little more subjective. However, if you can demonstrate that you don’t have the ability to support yourself at the same quality of living that you were accustomed to during the marriage, and especially if this is because you gave up career opportunities to benefit the marriage, you should be able to request enough alimony to support your accustomed lifestyle while you get back on your feet financially.
How Long Does It Last?
The duration of alimony vs child support is another big difference between the two. The duration of each is dictated largely by its purpose. With child support, the purpose is to ensure the child is taken care of while they’re still a dependent, so the support continues until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes second.
If you qualify for spousal maintenance, on the other hand, the duration of the support you receive will typically be determined by how long you were married. In general, alimony will only continue for between 30 to 50 percent of the duration of the marriage. The longer the marriage, in other words, the longer the duration of support, and most likely also the stronger the claim for support, especially in long marriages where the dependent spouse worked as a stay at home parent.
The Importance of a Good Family Law Attorney
Whether you are seeking child support, alimony, or both, it’s important to have a strong attorney at your side to help you fight for everything you need to take care of yourself and your children. Child support is more formulaic but many of the details of child custody and parenting time are not. Spousal maintenance is much more subjective, and may end up being heavily determined by the judge’s opinions and the strength of the case your lawyer makes.
For more information about the different kinds of support available to you, or to schedule a consultation for your case, contact the Simon Law Group today.