What is Child Alimony and How Does Child Alimony Work?
Child alimony refers to a monthly sum that is paid to the custodial parent from the non-custodial parent until the child reaches the legal age. While laws related to child support and alimony vary between States, the general idea is to ensure that the child does not suffer due to the divorce of their parents. Child alimony is only payable when a couple has divorced and is usually payable to the parent that the child stays with.
Unlike spousal alimony, which may have to be paid for an indefinite period of time, there is a time limit after which child alimony does not have to be paid. Once the child reaches the legal age, the non-custodial parent no longer bears the legal responsibility to pay for that child's lifestyle, health, and education.
How is the Amount that Needs to be Paid in Child Support Determined by the Court?
The process behind determining the amount that must be paid in child alimony differs from that related to spousal alimony. These two kinds of alimony are also different and the non-custodial parent will have to pay both depending on the income and employment status of the custodial parent during the marriage.
Child alimony is dependent on the income of both parents. The amount that is payable essentially ensures that the child continues to live the same lifestyles and have their basic needs covered even after the legal separation of their parents. The first thing the Court will check when determining this amount is how much is actually required to ensure that the child continues to live their life, economically unaffected by their parent's divorce. In order to determine this, the Court will take the following into account:
- School fees of the child
- Any medical issues the child may have and payment and support towards that
- Ensuring food and lodging for the child is available
These are the primary factors being assessed and the Court may also consider other factors that can play into the overall amount decided towards the child alimony.
How Much Does the Non-Custodial Parent have to Pay in Child Alimony?
The non-custodial parent, through child alimony, continues to be financially responsible for the child until they reach their legal age. The amount that is payable is not only considered from the point of view of continuing to support the child, but also of supporting the child in living the lifestyle they were used to before the marriage ended.
What this means is that if the child was used to a certain standard of living, then the child alimony amount will reflect a number that will ensure that the child can continue to enjoy the same levels of comfort. The court will not arbitrarily increase the amount or ask for an amount that is beyond the means of the non-custodial parent. At the same time, any attempt to deliberately throw off the legal system by showcasing a lower standard of living than the reality of the situation is not entertained by the Court.
The legal system conducts its own checks into how much the non-custodial parent can afford to pay in child support. Similarly, the custodial parent cannot ask for more money in an attempt to raise their standard of living to an unreasonable level.
What is the Difference Between Alimony and Child Alimony?
Usually, alimony refers to the sum that is paid to the spouse who was divorced, and was either dependent on the partner that is asked to pay the alimony, or earned an amount lower than them. Such an amount may have to be paid indefinitely and the details of the case depend on the State where the proceeding is taking place.
Child alimony on the other hand specifically refers to an amount that is decided upon solely to ensure that the child's standard of living is not affected and takes into account the incomes of both parents. The sum is paid monthly to the custodial parent until the child reaches the legal age and is used to take care of the expenses of the child.