Spousal Support Philadelphia Lawyer
The separation of a married couple is a practically difficult and emotionally trying event. Among the chief concerns of the separating party is the resolution of finances. Often, this involves some form of Spousal Support. Both parties in a Spousal Support matter have rights, and should retain a Family Law Attorney in order to ensure their financial future is protected.
Types of Spousal Support
In Pennsylvania, there are three types of Spousal Support that can be ordered by the court: (1) Spousal Support, (2) alimony, and (3) alimony pendente lite.
- Spousal support is paid after the parties separate, but before a divorce is final; it may be ordered before a divorce action is even filed.
- Alimony is an order for support that is made at the time or after the final divorce decree is entered. This form of support may be temporary or permanent. Both the amount of support to be paid and the duration of the support are determined by the court.
- Alimony Pendente Lite is a temporary order for support made after the divorce action is filed but before there is a final divorce decree.
Rule 1910.16-4 of the Pennsylvania Code provides the formula for determining these support amounts; the same formula being used for both spousal support and alimony pendente lite. If there are no minor children, then it is 40% of the difference between the payor’s net monthly income and the recipient’s net monthly income. If there are minor children, it is slightly more complicated. The difference between net monthly incomes is reduced by the amount of child support, with this number multiplied by 30%.
There is no set formula by which Pennsylvania court will calculate alimony. Rather, there are a number of factors which the court will consider in determining alimony, including:
- The age of the spouses
- The physical, mental, and emotional health of the spouses
- The length of the marriage
- The spouses’ income and earning capacity
- The spouses’ sources of income (including benefits like retirement, medical, insurance, etc)
- The spouses’ inheritances and any property they are expected to inherit
- The assets and debts of each spouse
- Each spouse’s financial needs
- Whether either spouse helped the other to get training, education, or
- Increased income during the marriage
- The education of both spouses, and how long it would take for the spouse asking for alimony to complete education or training required to find sufficient employment
- Whether a spouse has expenses and/or a limited earning ability due to having custody of a minor child
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The separate property each spouse brought to the marriage
- Whether a spouse contributed to the marriage as a homemaker
- The marital misconduct of either party during marriage (the court will only consider conduct prior to the final consideration unless that conduct was the abuse of one spouse unto the other)
- How alimony will affect each spouse’s taxes
- Whether the spouse asking for alimony has enough property, including property divided in the divorce, to meet reasonable needs
The duration of the alimony will depend on the circumstances as determined by the court. There may be an end date or alimony may be made ongoing. However, a number of circumstances can affect the court’s ruling:
- If the party receiving alimony remarries, alimony may be terminated.
- If the party receiving alimony lives with a non-family member of the opposite sex, alimony may be terminated.
- If the party receiving alimony dies, alimony may be terminated.
- If the party paying alimony dies, alimony may be terminated, unless the court order or party agreement stipulates otherwise.
- A significant change in circumstance of either party may justify the court re-evaluating the current situation, and making a necessary modification (this applies to both duration and amount).
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
The fact that alimony does not use a precise formula to determine amount or duration should make it clear that advocacy on behalf of your needs and rights is absolutely necessary. A knowledgeable and experienced Alimony Attorney can demonstrate to the court why certain factors are more relevant than others, in order to secure you the most favorable outcome possible. Whether trying to resolve an issue of support, or seeking modification, an alimony attorney will help you to protect your finances.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.