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Alimony

Philadelphia Alimony Lawyer

Unfortunately, going through a separation or divorce can be a very difficult and emotionally challenging ordeal. Usually financial stability and the ability to support oneself is a major source of concern. It is common for one spouse to be the "bread winner" while the other spouse is therefore the "dependent" spouse. In most situations, a financially dependent spouse may be entitled to some form of support. Whether you are the dependent spouse entitled to receive some form of support ("payee") or the party potentially required to pay it ("payor"), you have rights. It is important to retain an experienced family law attorney in order to ensure your financial future is protected.

Types of Support

The law in Pennsylvania allows three types of support: (1) Spousal Support, (2) Alimony Pendente Lite, and (3) Post-Judgment Alimony.

(1) Spousal support is temporary and terminates upon the entry of a divorce decree. It may be sought anytime after the parties no longer live together, even before a divorce action is filed.

(2) Alimony Pendente Lite ("APL"), which literally means "pending litigation", is similar to spousal support, in that it is a temporary order for support and terminates upon entry of a divorce decree. However, you can only file for APL after a divorce has been filed.

(3) Post-Judgment Alimony, is an order for support to commence upon entry of the divorce decree or Final Judgment in Divorce. This form of support may be limited duration or permanent. Both the amount of support to be paid and the duration of the support are determined by the court, but based on a variety of factors.

Determining Alimony

There is no formula to calculate alimony; rather, there are a number of factors which the court will consider in determining alimony:

  • 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, and

Whether the spouse asking for alimony is unable to be self-supporting through reasonable employment.

Duration of Alimony:

The duration of the alimony will depend on the circumstances as determined by the court. There may be a pre-determined date for it to end called "Limited Duration" or the alimony may be perpetual and never terminate unless certain events occur, called "Permanent". Common events to terminate alimony:

  • If the payee remarries;
  • If the payee engages in a romantic relationship and lives with that person;
  • If the payee dies;
  • If the payor dies, alimony may be terminated unless the court order or party agreement stipulates otherwise;
Modification of Alimony

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). Examples of significant changes in circumstances are:

  • If the payor loses his ability to pay due to illness, disability, or some other major change in ability to earn income beyond their control.
  • If the payee has a major increase in income or windfall (Hits the lottery, receives an inheritance, receives promotion, major increase in earning capacity)
Why Do I Need an Attorney?

Since there is no specific formula to determine the exact amount or duration of alimony, it is only sensible to have an experienced attorney protecting your rights and advocating for your needs. A knowledgeable attorney can convey why certain factors are more relevant than others in your particular case in order to secure you the most favorable outcome possible. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation, we are eager to help!

This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.

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