Alimony is a series of payments that one spouse makes to the other to provide financial support after divorce. Spouses may negotiate a spousal support plan on their own; however, if they cannot come to an agreement, the court may enter a support order if it finds that one spouse owes a duty of support to the other.
In Pennsylvania, courts may enter a support order for three types of payments: spousal support, alimony pendente lite, and alimony.
Spousal Support and Alimony Pendente Lite
Spousal support and alimony pendente lite are both awarded before the divorce is final; however, these two temporary orders cannot be in place simultaneously. Spousal support may be awarded before the parties have filed for divorce, whereas alimony pendente lite is awarded while the action is pending. The Pennsylvania Actions for Support Guidelines provide the applicable formula for calculating spousal support and alimony pendente lite.
The main factor taken into consideration is the financial situation of both parties. The needs of the spouse requesting support are taken into account, as well as the net income and earning capacity of both spouses, as well as the length of the marriage. However, if there are special circumstances warranting it, the court will deviate from the established guideline calculation.
Alimony is awarded after the final divorce decree is entered. A spouse may receive rehabilitative support, which are temporary payments to help them become more financially stable. This type of support is typically awarded to homemakers or child caretakers who intend to pursue further education or vocational schooling to become more hirable.
Permanent support is designed to provide one spouse with financial support until their death. This type of support is typically awarded to someone with a mental or physical illness.
Factors of Alimony
There is no set formula for calculating alimony. Rather, it is determined by the court on a case by case basis. There are 17 factors that Pennsylvania courts will consider when determining the type, amount, and duration of alimony payments:
- Each spouse’s income, including benefits
- Each spouse’s earning potential
- Age and health of each spouse
- Inheritances of each spouse
- Length of the marriage
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Contributions by a spouse to the earning capacity of the other (such as school or training)
- Whether one spouse has limited earning capacity because they were the primary caretaker of a minor child
- Each spouse’s assets and debts
- Each spouse’s pre-marital property
- Whether one spouse was a homemaker
- Financial needs of each spouse
- Martial misconduct during the marriage (such as adultery)
- Each spouse’s tax obligations
- Whether the party seeking alimony has adequate property to meet their reasonable needs
- Whether the party seeking alimony can support themselves through reasonable employment
Pennsylvania courts may end or amend the alimony order if circumstances change. The order will also end automatically if the receiving spouse gets remarried, is living with someone of the opposite sex who is not a family member, or if the receiving or paying spouse dies. Spouses may request to modify an alimony order only if they are experiencing significant and ongoing changes.
West Chester Alimony Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Provide Experienced Counsel on All Divorce Matters
To learn more about alimony in Pennsylvania, contact an experienced West Chester alimony lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County and Montgomery County. Call us at 610-565-3701 or contact us online to discuss your case.