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Alimony in Pennsylvania

Alimony in Pennsylvania


The idea of alimony in Pennsylvania divorces is a new one, with laws providing for alimony in Pennsylvania being instituted in 1980.  Alimony is gender neutral and will be paid to either spouse when the court determines that it is both reasonable and necessary for the spouse to receive such payments.  The standard applied to alimony varies by court and the facts of the case, which means that it is impossible to anticipate or guarantee alimony.  Alimony is only granted when the standard of living will be severely impacted by the spouse dependent on the other spouse and that divorced spouse will be forced to the point of destitution through the dissolution of the marriage and loss of financial support.



Factors considered for alimony in Pennsylvania



Income and potential income are the strongest determining factors for determining alimony.  Potential income includes investments and other benefits, since some may not be making full income due to relative financial security and stability.  Therefore, one’s gross income cannot be the only factor that determines if and how much alimony gets paid to a spouse.  Children are a factor in alimony decisions and the parent that contributes substantially to the raising and education of a child in terms of expenses will pay less alimony or will receive more alimony from a spouse that is not involved in those expenses.



The standard of living of the couple before the divorce is taken into consideration when there is not enough shared martial property to compensate the less financially secure spouse, alimony will be ordered to raise the standard of living of that spouse to the state it was prior to the divorce.



The grounds for divorce and martial misconduct may also be a factor in determining alimony liability and payments, depending on the severity.  Alimony as a punitive measurement is increasingly rarer.



Types of alimony in Pennsylvania



Alimony pendete lite describes temporary alimony awarded during a divorce proceeding.  This ensures that the spouse does not have to rely on public assistance will the divorce is ongoing.  It is assumed that the payer of alimony pendete lite will have control of the marital home and that the recipient spouse cannot remain in that environment. 



After the divorce settlement, alimony in Pennsylvania may be assigned on a temporary basis to cover the transition of the spouse from the martial home into self-sufficiency.  This temporary alimony usually has a fixed termination date, and can have conditions that require the alimony to be used for job training or education.  This does not lead to a long term alimony arrangement.



Long term alimony involves the constant, monthly payment to the spouse according to conditions set by the judge during the divorce agreement.  This arrangement stands until the spouse remarries or dies.  Wages can be garnished to facilitate payment and this can be done automatically as an enforcement action, if the spouse refused to pay alimony in a timely manner.