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Children and spouses may be entitled to support in the aftermath of a divorce. Child support is mandatory for any divorce where the splitting couple has minor children. Spousal support could be ordered by a judge under certain circumstances.
In most states, child support payments are calculated based on each parent’s income and the amount of time spent with the children. Additional payments may be provided for expenses such as child care, health care, special needs or travel-related visitation. Each state has its own method for calculating child support payments. Refer to LegalVorce’s materials to find your state’s formula. Parents may deviate from the standard formula and request to increase or decrease the amount of child support payments, but courts will want to know that any deviation is still in the best interest of the children.
Once a child support value is agreed upon by the parents and ordered by a judge, it is not set in stone. Child support orders can be revised and adjusted at any time should special circumstances arise or incomes fluctuate.
Spousal support, or alimony, is not mandatory in every state, but is often considered if one spouse may face financial hardships after the divorce. A judge may order alimony if one spouse is forced to live at a standard below what was maintained during the marriage. The parties can also agree to an amount of spousal support or alimony. Alimony is typically off the table if the marriage was brief (less than a few years) and/or both spouses have a steady income and are self-sufficient.
If alimony is ordered, the timeframe in which it’s paid can vary. A judge may order spousal support for an unlimited period of time, until death of the receiving spouse, until remarriage of the receiving spouse, or until a fixed date. Unlike child support, alimony doesn’t follow a standard calculation.