Alimony vs Spousal Support: Meaning and Differences

Alimony vs Spousal Support

Financial support is one issue that divorcing couples frequently struggle with. In the event of a contentious divorce, the judge may rule on spousal support or alimony after the parties have attempted to come to an amicable agreement. Is spousal support vs alimony different from one another? No, but if you’re going through a divorce, it’s crucial to know what these terms signify. Read on to know the differences and more.

What is Alimony?

The phrase “alimony,” which is now out of use, describes the money that one spouse pays to the other after a divorce. One of two married people may ask the other for financial support after their divorce. For instance, if one partner worked outside the home while the other raised the family, the former would request that the former partner continue to assist them after the divorce.

These payments may be referred to as alimony under state divorce laws. It is important to understand that alimony and palimony are two different things. In cases where two people cohabitated but were not married, the term “patrimony” refers to the money given from one partner to the other.

When it comes to alimony, the traditional understanding is that it’s money an ex-husband gives to his ex-wife. However, that perspective does not take into consideration divorce instances involving same-sex couples or circumstances in which a wife offers support to a former husband. Because of this, the term “spousal support” appears more frequently in divorce proceedings instead of alimony.

What is Spousal Support?

One partner may have to offer “spousal support” to the other after a separation or divorce to meet their financial needs. It is also referred to as “maintenance” or “alimony” at times. Although it can be paid in one large sum, spousal support is often given every month.

What’s the Difference Between Spousal Support vs Alimony?

The implications for the parties who pay and receive it are the same for both spousal support and alimony. The word “spousal support” is gender-neutral and does not imply anything about the sex of the engaged spouses.

Depending on the language used in state divorce codes, financial assistance may be referred to as spousal support or alimony in a divorce procedure. State laws specify what constitutes spousal support, or alimony, and when it can be awarded.

The definition of alimony in the law code may take blame into account. Higher alimony payments may be mandated by the court if one spouse is judged to be “at fault” for the divorce—for example, because they cheated. Alimony so turn becomes a punitive instrument.

Contrarily, spousal support assumes that one spouse will need continuing financial assistance after the marriage ends. It takes into account the income of each spouse as well as their potential for income after divorce. There is no presumption as to what one partner did or did not do to initiate the dissolution of the marriage.

How Are Alimony vs Spousal Support Determined?

It is dependent upon the state in which a divorce is filed as to when and how spousal support or alimony is paid. Should state law allow it, both spouses may employ their attorneys to try to reach a mutually agreeable spousal support agreement. For instance, divorcing couples may willingly sign spousal maintenance agreements in Texas. Courts in Texas do not grant alimony decrees that require payment.

However, the decision of whether to grant spousal support or alimony may rest with the judge. When deciding whether to grant alimony or spousal support, a judge may consider several different aspects. For instance, they might think about:

  • What caused the marriage to fail (in at-fault states)
  • The income and financial contributions made by each spouse to the marriage
  • Contributions that are not monetary (such as raising children or providing emotional support while the other spouse sought a profession or more education)
  • Potential earnings for each spouse and the amount of time it could take a jobless spouse to find a job
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Assets allotted to each spouse
  • Expected costs for each spouse following the divorce settlement
  • Age and well-being of each partner
  • Need for money on the recipient spouse’s part
  • Capacity to make payments on behalf of the expected supportive spouse

While some states calculate alimony using a certain formula, others do not. In the absence of a conventional computation, the judge may utilize their discretion to establish a reasonable sum.

A judge can impose restrictions on the duration of alimony payments in addition to determining whether to provide spousal support and how much a spouse must pay. For instance, the judge may order that payments be made until the beneficiary spouse gets married again. Alternatively, the duration of aid payments may be set at five years.

Alimony vs. Spousal Support vs. Child Support

A former spouse receives financial support in the form of spousal support and alimony. A divorce case may involve negotiations for child support, which is an additional form of domestic support.

The parent who has primary physical custody of the child or children of the marriage usually receives child support payments. Therefore, the parent who only has weekend visitation may be obligated to pay child support if the child resides with one parent Monday through Friday and with the other parent on the weekends.

In general, child support is meant to cover the costs of the kid’s necessities, including housing, food, medical care, and education. Generally, child support is required by state law to be paid until the child becomes 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first. Certain states mandate that the support be provided until the youngster has their college degree.

The formula for determining child support payments is defined by each state. It usually depends on how much time the youngster spends with each parent and how much money they make. If a parent’s income or living condition significantly changes after the court orders child support, they may be able to request a modification under state regulations.

Not paying child support may lead to legal action, just as not paying spousal support or alimony. In defaulting parents risk jail time, fines, or both until unpaid child support is settled.


What does “spouse support” mean?

Money given by one spouse to the other during a separation or divorce is known as spousal support. It’s also referred to as maintenance or alimony. A married or common-law spouse’s eligibility for and amount of spousal assistance may vary depending on several variables.

Can a man receive spousal maintenance from his spouse?

Although men are also eligible for alimony and spousal support, it could be more difficult to get into some courts due to unfair discrimination. To secure a man a suitable support award, the request must be handled appropriately and made assertively.

After a divorce, do I still have to support my husband?

Gender-neutral divorce rules have been implemented in the vast majority of states, and some women are now required to provide alimony to their ex-husbands, at least temporarily. Furthermore, alimony is awarded in same-sex divorces in the same way as it is in marriages with spouses.

After our divorce, do I still have to provide for my wife?

It is for the judge to decide whether or not to grant spousal support. The judge has the authority to determine the quantum of spousal support as well as the duration for which it must be paid.


As far as what each offers is concerned, there is no difference between spousal support vs alimony. Seeking alimony or spousal maintenance payments from your former husband is a possibility if you’re going through a divorce and believe you might need financial assistance. If you want to ask for either kind of support, a competent lawyer or divorce financial counselor can help you understand what to anticipate.

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