Understanding Alimony and Child Support

One question that everyone asks in their initial consultation at Family Matters Law Group is how much money will I get? It’s natural to be concerned about finances; after all, you’ve been married (probably for a significant time), and your financial situation is likely entangled with your spouse. Many people think of financial support as one lump sum paid by one spouse to another. You should be aware that there are two main types of support available, with key differences between them. Do you deserve alimony, child support, or both?

Understanding Alimony

Alimony is also known as spousal support. It’s money paid from one spouse to another in a divorce so that the person receiving the payment can continue to maintain a lifestyle that they became accustomed to during the marriage.

This money is not automatically given in a divorce; one spouse must request it from the judge. When the judge grants alimony, there’s no set time that it will remain in effect. You may receive alimony until you remarry, or even for a limited time until you’re able to sustain yourself financially.

There’s also no set formula for determining how much alimony one spouse will get. The court generally considers this on a case-by-case basis. There are certain factors, however, that the court typically uses when considering an alimony amount. These include:

  • The age of each spouse and the length of time they were married
  • The current employment situation for each spouse and how much they earn
  • The division of assets within the marriage
  • The individual living expenses for each spouse
  • The length of time it would take for each spouse to become financially self-supporting

You should also note that alimony payments are flexible. For example, if the person paying alimony suffers a major financial hardship (for example, they lose their job), they can ask the judge to lower the alimony payment amount. Likewise, if the person receiving alimony suffers a change in financial status (for example, sees a considerable rent increase), they can petition for a larger alimony payment.

What about the IRS? The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 have eliminated any deduction for alimony payments, so it’s going to sting if you’re making the payments. If you’re receiving payments, you no longer have to claim them as taxable income for federal tax purposes. However, due to the lack of a deduction, many spouses argue for lower alimony payments, so be prepared to look for other avenues of equity, such as real property or investment accounts.

Understanding Child Support

The key difference between alimony and child support is that alimony is a benefit for the spouse, but child support benefits the children.

Child support payments support the necessary living expenses of the children. This includes food, shelter, and clothing but can also cover medical and educational expenses. These payments can be flexible if the financial needs of the children change.

Under Georgia law, you must pay child support until the child turns 18. You may need to continue paying child support after that age if they’re still in high school when they turn 18. In that case, child support payments continue until the child graduates from high school or turns 20, whichever comes first.

The amount of child support is determined by a formula devised by the Georgia state legislature and considers the income of both parents. The income of the custodial parent plays a part in the calculation, known as the “Income Shares Model.”

The formula uses the total gross income from both parents, which means the income before any deductions are considered. This includes all income, not just employment income. Investment income, rental properties, and social security benefits are just a few of the income sources that will be considered.

That’s not all. The court will also consider other factors, such as medical, dental, and vision expenses. Significant educational expenses may also play a role in determining the child support amount. Your best move when it comes to trying to calculate a reasonable child support payment amount is to talk to an experienced attorney who can help you understand the numerous laws that pertain to this area.

Child support is for the children’s benefit, so it’s not deductible from taxes per federal law. Likewise, the receiving parent cannot claim it as income. Ensure that there’s a clear understanding while creating a divorce agreement as to which parent will be allowed to claim the children as dependents on federal and state tax returns each year.

Bottom Line: Make Sure You Talk to An Attorney
There are so many rules and regulations concerning alimony and child support that you would be at a severe disadvantage trying to navigate this yourself. Your best bet for a favorable outcome is to talk to an experienced attorney.

Family Matters Law Group has helped families across the Atlanta metro area get the best outcome possible in the fight for alimony and child support. Setting up an initial consultation is easy. Simply call or use our online contact form to contact us today. We’re ready to hear your story and fight hard for your family, assets, and money.