April 9th, 2024

What Is Alimony and How Does it Work in Pennsylvania?

Dealing with divorce is challenging, and the financial aspects involved can make it even more difficult to navigate. Whether you’re the receiving or paying spouse, knowing how spousal support and alimony work in Pennsylvania can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. Our divorce lawyers at Gross McGinley, LLP, help family law clients in Pennsylvania resolve issues and reach fair agreements that consider the interests of everyone involved.

What Is Alimony?

In Pennsylvania, alimony is financial support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. It is intended to aid a spouse who is financially dependent, disadvantaged, or has a lower earning capacity than their partner.

Types of Alimony in Pennsylvania

  • Spousal support – This type of financial support is paid by one spouse to the other after they have separated, but before a divorce is finalized. However, if the person asking for spousal support has done something that could be grounds for a fault divorce, such as adultery, it may be rejected by the court.
  • Alimony pendente lite (APL) – This is also temporary financial support paid between the time a divorce is filed and the date it is finalized. It is usually granted to a dependent spouse to cover their living expenses during a divorce. Unlike spousal support, APL cannot be denied on fault grounds. Spousal support and alimony pendente lite cannot be granted at the same time.
  • Alimony – This type of financial support is granted after a divorce is finalized. The duration and amount of alimony someone receives depends on a wide range of factors, including a person’s ability to earn a living. Alimony may be paid long-term or for a specific period, usually to give the receiving spouse an opportunity to obtain training, education, or employment to become financially independent. An alimony order can be reviewed and modified by the court if there is a change in practical or financial circumstances.

Factors Considered by the Court When Granting Alimony in Pennsylvania

Unlike child support orders, in Pennsylvania there is no set formula for determining how much alimony someone receives. Factors the court considers include:

  • The income and earning capacity of both parties
  • Assets and debts of each party
  • The property and assets brought into the marriage by each party
  • Both spouses’ ages and physical, emotional, and mental health
  • Specific needs of each party
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The contribution of one party to the other’s education, training, or increased earning power
  • Child custody arrangements
  • Contributions of a spouse as a homemaker
  • Each party’s education and how much time it will take the person seeking alimony to acquire education or training to find suitable employment

Modification and Enforcement of Alimony Orders

Unless a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, divorce settlement, or court order prohibits modification, the court can change the terms of an alimony order. Some common reasons someone may petition the court to modify an alimony order include changes in income or employment, marriage or cohabitation, retirement, and other issues.

When someone fails to make alimony payments, the court may enter a judgment against the paying party, order seizure of their property, wage garnishment of no more than 50% of their wages, or require the paying party to post security to guarantee future payments. In some cases, the paying party may have to pay interest and attorneys’ fees to the supported party as well. If a paying party is found to be in civil contempt of court, they may even face jail time.

How a Spousal Support Lawyer Can Help

Whether you’re the paying or receiving spouse, an experienced family law attorney can act as your advocate and help you reach a fair alimony agreement that meets your specific needs. Evidence such as financial records, proof of income and assets, and documentation of marital contributions are usually required in divorce, child custody, and alimony negotiations and hearings. Your attorney can help you gather this important information and use it to support your case.

Many alimony arrangements are negotiated by the parties and their divorce lawyers with no need for court intervention. Your alimony lawyer can negotiate on your behalf, help you work toward the best possible outcome, and protect your interests.

If your case goes to court, it’s crucial to have a qualified divorce attorney by your side. They understand how to present evidence, examine witnesses, and make convincing arguments to support a fair alimony order. If you need assistance with enforcement or modification of an alimony order, a Pennsylvania divorce attorney can help you file motions with the court, navigate the process, and assist you with any other family law issues that may arise.

Contact an Experienced Alimony Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Over the past four decades, Gross McGinley, LLP, has built a reputation based on our core values of collaboration, compassion, and respect. We provide forward-thinking legal services with a client-centered approach. In addition to handling family law matters our talented legal team provides a wide range of services in Pennsylvania, including criminal defense representation, trust and estate litigation, business law, and more. To schedule a consultation with a spousal support attorney, contact us or call 610-820-5450.

The content found in this resource is for informational reference use only and is not considered legal advice. Laws at all levels of government change frequently and the information found here may be or become outdated. It is recommended to consult your attorney for the most up-to-date information regarding current laws and legal matters.