Sometimes in a marriage, one spouse is financially dependent upon the other. In such cases, the lower-earning spouse might need financial assistance to get back on their feet after a divorce or while the proceedings are on-going. Alimony is meant to help ensure the dependent spouse has the economic stability they need as they become financially self-reliant. However, there are a few types of recognized alimony in Pennsylvania.
Divorce isn’t only emotionally challenging — it can be financially difficult. Throughout the divorce process, spouses must ensure that their bills are paid, their mortgage payments are made, and their taxes are taken care of. Satisfying these financial obligations can be hard when they are compounded by attorney fees and litigation costs. It’s important to understand that there are legal mechanisms in place to help a financially dependent spouse make ends meet before, during, and after the divorce process.
There are three types of spousal support recognized in Pennsylvania, based on the stage of the divorce proceedings. The types of support include the following:
Alimony may be paid periodically. Usually, payments are made monthly or annually. It can also be made as one lump sum or awarded for a certain duration. For instance, a judge might order alimony for a specific number of months or years — or until the dependent spouse gains employment.
There is no set mathematical formula to determine alimony in Pennsylvania. Rather, courts evaluate 17 factors when deciding whether an award of alimony is necessary. By statute, the relevant factors a judge may consider include:
Alimony may be awarded for a definite or indefinite duration, depending upon what is reasonable under the circumstances. The court must specify the reasons it is awarding or denying a request for alimony in an order made pursuant to the applicable statute. After an order has been entered, it can be modified in the event of a substantial change in circumstances. Remarriage of the receiving party or the passing of either party terminates an award of alimony.
Notably, Pennsylvania law specifically allows judges to take marital misconduct into consideration when deciding whether an award of alimony is necessary. Although it isn’t required to prove fault to obtain a divorce, a spouse who committed adultery might be barred from receiving alimony. However, the supporting spouse must be able to prove that adultery occurred and that it was the reason for the divorce. It is also necessary for the supporting spouse to have “clean hands” — in other words, they must not have consented to the adultery or received a benefit from it.
In addition, under 23 Pa. C.S. § 3706, a party who cohabitates with a romantic partner prior to divorce is not entitled to receive alimony.
Pennsylvania alimony matters can be complex. It’s best to have a knowledgeable divorce attorney by your side who can ensure your interests are safeguarded every step of the way. Located in Exeter, Pennsylvania, The Kulick Law Firm, LLC is committed to providing high-quality legal services to clients in Northeastern Pennsylvania who are facing divorce. Call (570) 203-2756 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to learn how we can help.