Spousal Support & Alimony
In a divorce, a couple needs to address several matters relating to the permanent separation. It is a complicated legal action that requires thorough tackling of issues that may arise during and after the proceeding. Some legal divorce matters include asset division, child support, paternity establishment, parenting plan, child custody, and alimony.
If you are planning to get a divorce in Pennsylvania, it is an important concern that you need to know more about. You might have some related questions in your mind: how is alimony calculated and granted? What are the factors to consider by a PA court? Read on to know the answers to your questions regarding alimony.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony is defined as the payment that a spouse makes to the other before, during, and after the divorce process. It is inevitable that one party suffers unmerited economic consequences caused by divorce. Alimony seeks to provide financial assistance to the non-earning or low-earning spouse to ease the burden of transitioning from married to single life.
In addition to that, this financial aid will also help in maintaining the spouse’s standard of living despite the unwanted changes brought about by divorce.
Types of Alimony in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania lists three (3) types of alimony. The distinction of each type primarily depends on the phase of divorce where the spouses are in at the time of alimony request. Here are the following:
Spousal support is granted prior to the filing of a divorce. It is temporary financial assistance paid pre-divorce. Often, spouses live in separate houses before they can even process the legal proceeding. That’s the moment where the less financially capable spouse will be able to get financial aid from the other spouse.
Alimony Pendente Lite
Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) refers to the payment awarded on the pendency of a divorce. If a spouse has already filed for divorce, but it’s still pending, the alimony is called alimony pendente lite.
Alimony is a post-divorce financial aid of an ex-spouse to the other. It is based on the genuine need of the less capable spouse as the divorce becomes final. Alimony payments vary both in amount and the span of time they must be awarded. The discretion of PA courts is the only decision that must be honored. It is final and irrevocable. To come up with a reasonable verdict, they utilize 17 factors that guide them in doing so.
Alimony Guidelines in PA
Pennsylvania laws do not automatically entitle any spouse to alimony just because they are filing for divorce. Pursuant to Section 3701 of the PA Divorce Code, these 17 alimony factors guide PA courts in considering alimony in a divorce:
- The respective earnings of the spouses.
- The length of the marriage.
- The ages of the spouses as well as the overall health—physical, emotional, and mental states.
- The income sources, including insurance, medical, retirement, and other benefits of spouses.
- The income stream, inheritances, and other future wages of the spouses.
- The method by which each spouse has contributed to the other’s growth—education, training, business, or improved potential in earning money.
- The extent to which a spouse will have economic or financial consequences by his or her role as their child’s custodian.
- The standard way of living of spouses during the marriage.
- The respective education of spouses. This involves the span of time a spouse requesting alimony has to use for getting an education or finding a job.
- The assets and debts of spouses.
- The property of each spouse purchased during the marriage.
- The contribution level of each spouse as a homemaker.
- The respective needs of the spouses.
- Any marital misconduct such as abuse (as provided by Section 6102) or violence committed by each spouse during the marriage.
- The alimony tax consequences—federal, local, state.
- The need for an adequate property of the spouse requesting alimony. This includes items from Chapter 35.
- The capacity of the spouse requesting alimony to support himself through employment.
How to Compute for Alimony Payments
Both spousal support and alimony pendente lite are calculated the same way, but depending on whether a couple has minor children or not. Meanwhile, alimony per se is calculated differently using a list of factors.
For Couples Without Minor Children
To get the alimony for a spouse who either has no child or who has children over 18, get 33% of the other spouse’s monthly net income. Then, subtract 40% of the less-earning spouse’s monthly net income. The difference you will get is the amount of alimony pendente lite or spousal support to be awarded to the spouse who is in need.
For Couples With Minor Children
In the scenario that a couple has minor children, the calculation will be marginally different. Now, take 25% of the monthly net income of the higher-earning spouse. Then, diminish 30% of the other spouse’s monthly net income. The difference you will get is the amount of alimony pendente lite of spousal support to be awarded to the spouse who is in need.