Alimony (also called spousal support) and child support are both payments made from one person to another after a relationship transition.  However, courts can only award alimony in a divorce.  Whereas, child support can be awarded in a custody action even if the parents were never married) or in a divorce. So in simple terms- alimony is a payment for the support of a former spouse while child support is a payment for the support of a child.

Length of Alimony Versus Child Support

Another difference between alimony and child support is the duration. In most child support cases the parents will pay child support until a child turns 18. Now if the child has not graduated high school by the age of 18, there are 2 options :then child support payment will continue until the child does graduate from high school (1) or until the child’s 19th birthday (2). So as you can tell child support has an end date and typically only goes until the child is 18 or 19.

Alimony is different and has 3 different duration option:

  • “Temporary” or “pendente lite”: alimony payments only while the divorce is pending
  • ‘Time limited” or “rehabilitative”: there is a set duration established for alimony payments that is relatively short-term
  • “Open ended” or “lifetime” alimony: This is as it sounds, payments that have no set end date and can be paid for the rest of the lifetime of the spouse.


A huge difference between alimony and child support is that spouses can actually waive alimony but parents cannot waive child support. Even if a parent decides to pay for the child support in a lump sum, the court still has the authority to order parents to pay additional child support.

Purpose of Child Support vs Alimony

Child support in Connecticut is actually based on the combined net income of the two parents’ rather than on the actual costs (think necessary living expenses like food, shelter, and clothing) associated with raising a child.  Child support payments are meant to cover the basics — including shelter, food, and clothes.

The purpose of child support is to provide for the care and well-being of minor children. It is not meant to equalize the available income of the parents.  Sometimes, courts use alimony to equalize parents’ income for some period of time.  Nevertheless, household expenses may be a proper component of child support where the expenses are necessary to maintain the family home for the benefit of the children.

So the distinction between expenses addressed via child support versus alimony tends to get muddled.  This is especially true when the child resides primarily with the alimony recipient. For example, rent or mortgage payment payments, utility bills, and groceries all relate to both a parent and child who live together.  To complicate things further, sometimes courts base alimony upon the expenses the recipient will incur for benefit of the children.  In other words, child support may cover the basics, but alimony may help a recipient spouse cover the extras.

Calculating Alimony vs Child Support

Connecticut’s statutes provide a set of factors for courts to consider in determining alimony.  Similarly, the statutes also provide a set of factors for judges to weigh in deciding child support.

There are many factors that overlap between child support and alimony factors.  For example, both include the parents’ respective:

  • age
  • health
  • station
  • occupation
  • earning capacity
  • amount and sources of income
  • estate
  • vocational skills
  • employability

Now there are some factors that the courts will consider for alimony that they don’t need to consider for child support:

  • the length of the marriage
  • the reasons for the breakdown in the marriage
  • property division in the divorce

When it comes to child support, in addition to the factors, a judge must consider the calculation under the Child Support Guidelines.

The Comprehensive Connecticut Alimony Guide

If it wasn’t obvious alimony is one of the most important issues when it comes to divorces, but it is also one of the most confusing.  The good news is that this means there is tremendous flexibility to craft an individualized approach.  In order to prepare to make solid and informed decisions, you need to understand how alimony works. If you find yourself in this position reach out to us today.

Speak to an Experienced Law Attorney Today

Contact the Law Offices of Keith Anthony at (860) 333-6455. Attorney Keith Anthony can help you navigate thru this process, step by step and is open to assist you.  If negotiations fail we can arrange mediation of your disputes. We can help you make agreements that can be filed with the court.