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Spousal support versus child support in Massachusetts divorces

For divorcing couples with children in Massachusetts, one confusing aspect might be that of alimony. Alimony, or spousal support, is a separate issue from child support. The two are treated differently by the courts and addressed in a different way when it comes to taxes.

From the perspective of the payor, child support is not deductible on a tax return, while alimony is. Spousal support is considered deductible from gross income on the payor's return. Likewise, the same is true in an opposite fashion for the recipient. Alimony must be counted as income on the tax return, while child support is not included.

The matter grows slightly more complicated when less than the total amount of required spousal and child support has been paid. In this case, only the amount that exceeds the total stipulated child support will be counted as spousal support for tax purposes. When attempting to determine alimony versus child support, there are other variables individuals will wish to review with their lawyers in addition to income taxes, such as the length of the marriage and the age of the children, all of which will affect payment amounts, how long payments will be made and other issues.

Of course, not all divorcing individuals will have the option of deciding the amounts and allocations of spousal support versus child support. For those Massachusetts residents who do, however, the experienced legal advice of a seasoned family law attorney can prove invaluable. Many variables affect which type of payments are preferable in any given situation. Whether the individual is the payor or the recipient, he or she will doubtlessly benefit from carefully discussing available options with a seasoned legal professional.

Source:, "Tax Tips: Alimony vs. child support", Barry Dolowich, Oct. 3, 2017

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