What Is Family Support Vs. Spousal Support?

By John Stevens J.D.

Family support, spousal support and child support are all intended to provide financial assistance to a former spouse and any children from a marriage. All three types of support orders are usually subject to modification upon a material change in circumstances, and the orders have a fixed expiration date. While similar, some important distinctions exist between these types of support.

Family support, spousal support and child support are all intended to provide financial assistance to a former spouse and any children from a marriage. All three types of support orders are usually subject to modification upon a material change in circumstances, and the orders have a fixed expiration date. While similar, some important distinctions exist between these types of support.

Child Support

Child support is an amount of money awarded to provide for a child's needs. An award of child support is separate from an award for spousal support. If both types of support are awarded by a court, it requires two separate orders. Child support has priority over spousal support, meaning that if the spouse ordered to make such payments only has enough disposable income to pay one type of support, the court will only award child support.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Family Support

Family support combines child support and spousal support into one payment. The court order does not specify how much of the payment is for child support and how much is designated for spousal support. A court will not issue separate orders for child support and spousal support if a family support judgment is entered. Family support is often awarded where the parties are in mutual agreement, but in some states, a court can enter a family support judgment even without the parties' agreement.

How Support Amount Is Determined

There is some variation from state to state in how courts determine the amount of support awarded, but the basic considerations are the same. The court ascertains the amount of income from both parents that is available for support. The court may presume the amount of income an under-employed or unemployed parent would normally earn. If the state has issued guidelines in which support amounts are based on the parent’s income, the court may also consider arguments as to why it should deviate from these guidelines.

Tax Issues

Tax issues that arise pertaining to spousal support and child support are governed primarily by federal tax law. Generally, spousal support (called alimony or spousal maintenance under federal tax) is included in the payee’s gross income and payments are deductible by the payer; however, payments designated as child support are usually not included in the payee’s gross income and are not deductible by the payer. Family support orders, if properly drafted, allow the payer to deduct the payments, but the payee must still include the amount received as income.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
How Are Child Support Arrears Assessed?

References

Related articles

What You Need to Know About Child Support Court in California

Child support payments can create turmoil during California divorce proceedings. A number of issues exist, including how California law calculates child support payments, how payments can change and how payments end. The law explains these issues in detail, but the judge prevailing over a case has influence over the final outcome.

What Is the Maximum Amount of Child Support in Maryland?

A divorce does not end a parent's duty to financially support his children. In Maryland, child support is calculated according to a set formula contained in state law and based on the parents' incomes. Because a child's needs take precedence over the interests of the parents, a judge is not necessarily bound by a support calculation and may order a higher payment if he deems it necessary to cover expenses related to the care of the child. There is no statutory maximum limit to the amount of support the court can order.

Florida Child Support Regulations

Each state has different rules when it comes to child support, but Florida allocates the support amount between parents based on each parent’s share of the spouses’ combined income. This model of determining child support, called the income shares model, is based on the idea that children should receive the same financial support during the divorce process, and once the divorce is finalized, as they received when their parents were still married.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How Much Will My Ex-Husband Pay in Child Support in Alabama?

In Alabama, one parent will typically be awarded full or primary custody of minor children and the other parent will ...

Who Pays Child Support When You Get Divorced in Arizona?

In Arizona, both parents are required to provide financial support for their children. However, whether or not one ...

How Do I Calculate Disposable Net Income for Child Support Payments?

States take the position that both parents are responsible for financially supporting their children after divorce. ...

New Jersey Child Support Questions

In New Jersey, as in other states, when a child lives with a parent after divorce that parent does not bear the ...

Browse by category