How exactly does alimony and child support work, and why does it seem like it’s always men who pay it to women, and never the other way around?

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How exactly does alimony and child support work, and why does it seem like it’s always men who pay it to women, and never the other way around?

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It’s because of the wage gap. Men tend to make more money than women still, and so it is more common that the man has to make payments to the woman. Plenty of woman have had to make spousal support payments (alimony is an outdated term) because they earn more than their ex-husband. Which spouse has to pay how much depends on the sate and their divorce laws, but it’s a function of the income of each.

Person who makes more money keeps paying the lower wage earner (depends on the law of your area) so they can still support themselves and children. If both ex partners are equal in wage , they will forgo the paying each other. It’s still more likely that men earn more than women and women are more likely been main child caters so hence the child support

Mostly:

1. Men tend to earn more.
2. Following many divorces the mother frequently ends up as the primary caregiver.
3. In marriages where one parent leaves the workforce to take care of homemaking it’s normally the wife.

Item 1 means that even when there’s 50:50 shared custody some child support is owed to the mother so she can provide for the child equally as possible while she has custody.

Item 2 means that most of the time the mother has most/all of the custody and this carried most/all of the responsibilities for meeting the child’s need. This means that mostly the father is responsible for paying child support to offset those to something approximating 50:50, though often it’s far less than that.

Item 3 often only kicks in after a lengthy marriage and where the wife has spent a prolonged period out of the workforce, which tanks her earning potential, while in exchange her acting as homemaker has allowed the husband to maximize his. The amount and length of alimony is normally tied to the length of marriage, how long the spouse was out of the workforce, and the working spouses income.

If/when any of 1-3 is reversed, with the father being primarily caregiver/homemaker/income earner the wife can end up owing child support/alimony, but such circumstances are uncommon so you don’t see them often.

The basic idea of alimony is that if your spouse stops working to be a full-time homekeeper, and they get divorced, they will have a hard time supporting themselves because they haven’t been working in years and are going to have a hard time getting back into the job market.

The fear is that you would have people stuck in abusive relationships where they couldn’t leave because they knew they wouldn’t be able to support themselves on their own.

Alimony is meant for those sorts of cases, where someone who is going to need help getting back on their feet if they get divorced is able to get that help. It is much rarer these days since very few people are stay at home parents or housekeepers.

Child support is similar. If you are not going to be actively raising a kid, you still have a responsibility to that child to help, and paying money for that child is seen as a way to handle that responsibility.

And the reason why it seems more often happening to men is that in our culture women are more likely to be a stay-at-home parent who doesn’t work than men.

I see a lot of people answering the second question, but not the first. Could be because “how does it work?” can mean a ton of different things:

Why does it exist? – this is answered by other responses so I will just refer to other responses

How is it legally setup? – this varies state by state and sometimes county by county. Each state will have different laws and standards around child support and some states have spousal support, some do not. This is all determined by that state and locally different county judges actually make the rulings.

How does it get setup in the first place? – Assuming one party wants to receive payments and the other party either doesn’t want to pay or doesn’t want as much as being asked, then one side or the other will petition a family court to setup child or spousal support, or both. In family court, because one party is petitioning the court for something and the other is responding, they are called the Petitioner and Respondent respectively. When the Petitioner petitions the court, typically a hearing will be setup, though the court will probably order mediation to take place first. If an agreement is reached, or if there was no argument in the first place, a “no contest” order can be drawn up and signed off by both sides and the judge making it official. If the two sides don’t agree, they will go to court. Family court hearings are similar to other court hearings in that both sides can have witnesses testify and each party can testify themselves. Evidence will be collected, typically things like W-2’s, paystubs, tax returns, bank records, etc. After hearing all of this, the judge will ultimately rule on the Petitioner’s claim, and decide if child support and/or spousal support is warranted and if so, how much.

How is it actually paid? – this varies by state as well, but this will usually go through the AG’s office for that state, and once an order is signed off by a judge and processed, one side will make payments to the AG’s office, either manually, through automatic payments, or from their paycheck directly, and the other side will have an account that receives money which can again be setup to transfer funds to a bank account.

Generally speaking when two people are married, all the money and property they come into while they are married is considered to be split 50/50, regardless of who makes what. The idea then is that each person gets accustomed to the lifestyle and so in a divorce can argue that they should be able to keep said lifestyle. Often the man earns more because of the wage gap in our country, but if the woman earns more then she would end up paying. This all has to be litigated and isn’t a guarantee, sometimes couples agree to not do this. Also pre-nuptial agreements can make sure that this doesn’t happen if both parties wish it.

Child support is similar, but you also have to factor in who is actually the primary caregiver of a child, since caring for a child everyday costs a lot of money. So even if dad earns less, if he is not really present in taking care of the child, he could still have to pay to help mom keep up with all the child’s needs. Courts most commonly rule to keep children with their mother whenever possible, so you get more fathers paying child support (which often means they don’t have as much time taking care of the children). But it all varies and there are certainly unfit mother scenarios or instances where the mom just wants to move on and is paying child support too.

In both situations the couple can usually agree of whatever they want, and even keep the courts out of it if they can remain amicable. Things like evidence of cheating or abandoning the family can often factor in as well (usually not in favor of the offending party).

It depends on jurisdiction, but in broad terms:

Child support has to do with, obviously, the financial support of the children. Food, clothes, education, healthcare, all the expenses that go into raising and supporting a minor. It’s usually based on the joint incomes of the parents, who has primary custody, etc. The policy behind child support – and almost any laws regarding minors – is what is in the best interest of the child.

Alimony is a different beast. Historically, alimony was usually awarded to the wife/mother, because women traditionally were housewives raising kids. And with no career, or job, women were completely dependent on the husband’s income. Even now, women make on average 71 cents to every man’s dollar. So that is taken into consideration.

Spousal support (from either spouse to the other) has changed over the years. For instance, there is no default spousal support in Washington State, and such support is usually limited in time.

It depends on jurisdiction, but in broad terms:

Child support has to do with, obviously, the financial support of the children. Food, clothes, education, healthcare, all the expenses that go into raising and supporting a minor. It’s usually based on the joint incomes of the parents, who has primary custody, etc. The policy behind child support – and almost any laws regarding minors – is what is in the best interest of the child.

Alimony is a different beast. Historically, alimony was usually awarded to the wife/mother, because women traditionally were housewives raising kids. And with no career, or job, women were completely dependent on the husband’s income. Even now, women make on average 71 cents to every man’s dollar. So that is taken into consideration.

Spousal support (from either spouse to the other) has changed over the years. For instance, there is no default spousal support in Washington State, and such support is usually limited in time.