Alimony vs Child Support: What are the Differences?

Alimony vs Child Support What are the Differences

Divorce or separation is a very common incident in Canada. Divorce comes with a wide range of complications. Child support and alimony are the most common of them. Alimony refers to the spousal support that one spouse provides to the other after divorce or separation. On the other hand, child support is a financial obligation that one parent needs to fulfill.

So, what are the differences between alimony vs child support? Alimony is focused on the financial assistance of the spouse after divorce, while child support is focused on fulfilling the children’s basic and essential needs. I hope this article will help you to get an insight into alimony and child support in Canada. 

What is Alimony?

Alimony is also known as spousal support. It refers to the financial assistance that one spouse provides to the other after divorce or separation. It helps the lower-earning spouses when their earning capability is limited because of different childcare responsibilities. Alimony focuses on maintaining the standard of living after the separation. It is not automatic; it is determined based on different factors. 

Who is Eligible for an Alimony?

The eligibility for alimony depends on different factors, including financial circumstances and the spouse’s needs. In this case, the paying spouse must be able to provide support.

The major factors may include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and earning capacity, and the standard of living during the marriage etc. Here is the list of the people who can be considered eligible for alimony:

  • Spouses who are in a common-law relationship are eligible for an alimony.
  • Couples who have lived together for at least three years
  • The spouse who stopped their career advancement for marriage is also eligible.
  • If the spouse has children together, they will be considered eligible.

How is Alimony Decided in Canada?

There is no set formula for calculating alimony. Alimony is decided based on different factors, including the length of the marriage, the financial contributions of each spouse, their respective earning capacities, or any sacrifices made for the benefit of the family. Here are the major factors on which alimony is decided:

Financial Need

Financial need is the major criterion for seeking alimony. If a spouse proves that they lack the financial means to maintain a standard of living similar to what they had during the marriage, they will be eligible for alimony.

Length of the Marriage

The duration of the marriage is also important in determining the eligibility for alimony. The longer marriages have more possibility to get the alimony. Because, in the meantime one spouse may be financially more dependent on the other. 

Earning Capacities

The earning capacities of both spouses are important in deciding the eligibility of the alimony. The court will consider this matter if one spouse has a higher income.

Health and Age

The age and health condition of the spouse can also influence the people’s eligibility. If anyone has health issues that limit the ability to work or if any age differences affect employability, these factors can be considered in determining eligibility.  

What is Child Support?

Child support is a financial obligation ordered by the law that one parent needs to fulfill. It helps the child in assisting with the expenses associated with the children. Child support is designed to ensure the children’s needs of education, healthcare, and general well-being. This does not depend on the marital status and can be applied even if they are never married.

What Expenses are Covered by Child Support?

Child support covers the expenses related to the child’s well-being. Here are the expenses you need to cover while doing child support:

Basic Living Expenses

The basic living expenses include the housing cost. It ensures that the child has a stable and suitable living environment. Food expenses and clothing costs are also included here.


Child support extends to cover educational expenses, including school fees. The costs may include the books, supplies, and other educational materials incorporated into child support.


Health is the most important aspect to cover while giving child support. Though some medical expenses are covered by insurance, child support helps address the gaps. 


You also need to pay the transportation costs of the child. This may include fuel costs, public transportation fees, or other related expenses.

How Child Support is Decided?

All spouses are not eligible for child support. This can be decided based on:

The income of both parents: Gross income before taxes is used for calculations.

Number of children: The amount will increase with each child.

Custody arrangements: Shared custody may reduce payments slightly.

Special needs of the child: Disabilities or medical conditions are considered.

IRS Rules for Alimony vs Child Support

IRS has some rules for child support and alimony in Canada. Here are those:


Alimony payments stand out for their unique tax treatment. For the paying spouse, alimony payments are generally tax-deductible. This deductibility can contribute to a more favourable tax position for the paying spouse. When filing tax returns, the recipient spouse must report alimony payments as part of their taxable income.

Child Support

Child support operates under a different set of IRS rules. This is not tax-deductible for the parent making the payments. The IRS considers child support as a financial obligation that does not impact the taxable income of the paying parent. 


To sum up, alimony and child support are separate but related ideas in family law. The purpose of alimony is to help a former spouse meet their financial obligations so that they can continue to live comfortably. On the other hand, child support ensures the kids are taken care of financially. 

To fairly and equitably navigate the intricacies of divorce and family support arrangements, it is essential to understand these distinctions.


How much alimony does a wife get in Canada?

Alimony depends on factors like the spouse’s financial situation, their respective needs, the length of the marriage, and others. There isn’t any particular formula, but courts consider factors like the recipient’s financial need and the payer’s ability to pay. 

Do you have to pay child support if you give up rights in Canada?

Yes, you must pay child support if you give up your rights in Canada. The parents cannot be relieved of this responsibility voluntarily. The court always focuses on the best interests of the child. This is determined based on the parent’s income and the child’s needs.

How can I stop paying child support?

Child support is legally binding and court-ordered. If you stop paying child support without proper authorization, it can lead to bad consequences. You should consult with a family lawyer if there are legitimate reasons to terminate child support. 

When do you stop paying spousal support?

The duration of the spousal support is focused on the divorce agreement of the court order. The court may approve your application for spousal support based on specific conditions like the spouse’s remarriage or the predetermined period. 

Previous How to Get Child Support in Canada?

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