If you are planning to divorce your spouse, you may wonder if you are entitled to receive spousal support for your own maintenance or child support for the care of your offspring. Your eligibility depends on your individual situation. However, if you are entitled, the next step is typically filing with the court.
Differences Between Child Support and Spousal Support
All biological parents have a responsibility to support their children financially. Child support is a way for a parent to fulfill that obligation when a relationship with the other parent ends. The court can order your ex to pay child support even if the two of you were never married. In other words, it is the parent’s relationship to the child that counts, not to the other parent.
Whereas child support is for the benefit of your children, spousal support is for your benefit. Unlike with child support, the court does not automatically assume you are entitled to receive spousal support. However, if there is a disparity between your income and that of your ex, the court will examine your situation and determine if spousal support would make your financial situation fairer.
Filing for Support
It may not be necessary for you to petition the court for spousal support. You and your ex may be able to negotiate an agreement through alternative dispute. You may get more flexibility as a result. A court will still have to approve the agreement, but that should not pose much of a problem.
However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement about spousal support, you will have to file with the court. This typically involves filling out forms and obtaining the necessary financial documentation. You will need copies of all the documents, and you may need to have some of them notarized.
The process of filing for child support begins with a court order. The order is not retroactive beyond the date of filing, so if you are seeking child support, it is important to file as soon as possible. If you were not married to the child’s other parent, it is important to legally establish paternity before filing the court order.
Each state has enforcement mechanisms in place to ensure that parents who pay child support fulfill their obligations. These can involve revoking professional licenses or garnishing wages. There are fewer enforcement mechanisms in place for enforcing spousal support orders, but you may be able to sue an ex-spouse who does not honor your agreement or comply with a court order.
One of our attorneys would be happy to answer your questions related to obtaining and receiving support for you and/or your children. Contact an attorney, like a family lawyer in Lake Forest, IL, to arrange a consultation.
Thank you to the experts at Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC., for their input into family law.