If you’re going through a divorce in Washington State, it’s important to know the difference between alimony and child support. Both types of support can have a great effect on your life post-divorce. Read on to learn more about alimony vs. child support and why the court may order each.

Understanding Child Support

Child support is the amount of money that the court orders one parent to pay to the other party for the financial support of a child. This allows the parent who receives the child support to pay for things like clothing, education expenses, food and shelter, etc.

Usually, the parent who has custody of the child is the recipient of the child support payments. Parents can estimate the amount of child support that one may have to pay on the Washington State Division of Child Support website. They must enter the following information.

  • The monthly take-home pay of the child support payee
  • The monthly take-home pay of the child support recipient
  • The number of children the parents have together
  • The number of those children who are under the age of 12

The factors above are for finding a crude estimate. Other factors the court may consider are any special needs of the child, the child’s standard of living, total child expenses (day care, education, transportation), and household assets.

Spousal Support Payments

Spousal support payments, often called alimony payments, are distinct from child support payments. Alimony payments are payments made by one spouse to the other spouse. Factors the court will consider when deciding upon the amount of a spousal support payment include the length of the marriage, the health and ages of each party involved, employment history of each party, income, education levels and skill sets, and more.

The purpose of alimony is to allow a financially dependent spouse to maintain a certain standard of living and to obtain employment – or the skills necessary to do so – in order to become financially independent.

The court will decide the amount of both child support and alimony payments. Failure to pay either when ordered can have repercussions for the offending party.

Contact a Divorce Attorney in Washington Today

If you're pursuing a divorce in Washington, it is important that you have a divorce attorney on your side who can negotiate fair alimony and child support payments. Once the court sets an amount, it can be difficult to change child support or alimony.

At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we are committed to making sure your divorce is handled professionally and that you walk away with a fair agreement. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us today at 425-460-0550.  

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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