Whether spousal support (also known as alimony) is awarded, and how much support you can receive or be forced to pay, is based on several factors. Many of these factors change as life goes on, and it is important to periodically review your spousal support orders and check if they are still appropriate. Also, Pennsylvania lawmakers and courts may make decisions that change the laws that were in effect when your spousal support case was decided, and that may entitle you to changes. The Philadelphia spousal support lawyers at Sadek and Cooper have put together this guide to help divorcees understand the current, 2017 laws for spousal support in PA. If you or someone you know wants to update or modify spousal support orders, contact our lawyers today for a free consultation.
Up-to-Date Alimony Laws in PA
Alimony and spousal support laws in Pennsylvania are fairly stable, and do not change very frequently. However, it is important to check the statutes for family law to find the most up-to-date laws available. In 2017, the guidelines for making spousal support decisions are found in 23 Pa.C.S. § 3701(b). Every court in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is required to consider these same 17 factors before making any alimony or spousal support decisions. Most of these factors consider each party’s wealth, financial needs, and the lifestyle they were used to during marriage. They also consider strange elements like the length of the marriage and fault in causing the divorce.
The following are the 17 alimony factors in PA:
- Each party’s relative earnings and earning capacity;
- The ages, physical, mental, and emotional states of each party;
- Each party’s sources of income;
- Expected gifts and inheritances for each party;
- The length of the marriage;
- Each party’s contribution to education or job training for the other spouse;
- The effects that raising minor children will have on earning capacity;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- Each party’s relative training and job experience;
- Each party’s relative assets and debts;
- The property each party brought to the marriage;
- A party’s contribution as homemaker;
- Each party’s relative needs;
- Either party’s marital misconduct (e.g. adultery);
- The tax consequences of alimony;
- Whether the party has enough property to support oneself; and
- Whether the party seeking support could support themselves with a job.
These factors are used not only to determine whether or not to award alimony, but also how long alimony should be awarded for, or whether it should be permanent.
Modifying alimony orders in Pennsylvania requires that there is some change to these factors. If either party goes through a “material and substantial change in circumstances” that affects one or more of these factors, either party may be entitled to request a court to change alimony orders. Things like the payor losing a job or the recipient graduating from college heavily influence a court’s decision-making process, and could mean the alimony order needs to be changed.
Alimony During Divorce in PA
Many Pennsylvanians do not know that you can seek spousal support during your divorce proceedings. This is known as alimony “pendente lite” – alimony “during litigation.” This can be important in cases where one spouse is very controlling over finances or is abusive. Because it may be difficult for a spouse to access funds to pay for a lawyer, you may be able to sue for ongoing spousal support – including attorneys’ fees – during divorce proceedings. This can be an excellent tool to help spouses distance themselves from their spouse, without worrying about repercussions of their request for divorce.
Alimony is similarly a protection. Spouses who rely on their husband or wife for income may be afraid to seek divorce because they will lose that income and their lifestyle. Alimony is intended to allow a divorcee to continue maintaining that lifestyle after divorce. Do not be afraid to take your case to a Philadelphia divorce attorney for help understanding your options for financial support.
Philadelphia Alimony Lawyers
The Philadelphia family lawyers at the Sadek and Cooper Law Offices have combined decades of experience handling divorce cases, and the related aspects of a divorce case. This includes experience dealing with asset division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. If you are considering a divorce, or are already getting divorced and want to receive spousal support, talk to an attorney today.
Spousal support can be modified based on changed circumstances. If you are receiving too little alimony or are paying too much, talk to our attorneys today to see how your alimony order may be modified. For a free consultation on any of our services, contact our family law offices today at 215-625-0851.