Even though the terms “spousal support” and “alimony” are used interchangeably, they are actually quite distinctive. While both mean that one spouse pays the other; a spousal support order is made before a divorce is finalized. In essence, it means one spouse will provide support to the other spouse after they have separated. In some cases, the support can be ordered before the divorce action has even been filed.
What Are the Guidelines in Pennsylvania?
According to Pennsylvania law, the court must use set guidelines to determine the amount of spousal support that will be made. It is important to note that the guidelines take into consideration the spouse’s needs who is asking for support, as well as the duration of the marriage.
When dependent children are involved, the court uses an equation that takes the payer’s net income minus any support paid to a different spouse and/or child support. The receiving spouse’s income is also taken into account, along with other factors that will be multiplied by 30%, which will determine the final amount that will be paid.
When there are no children involved, both spouses’ incomes will be factored in along with the paying spouse’s previous obligation to another former spouse and/or children not related to the current case. This equation will be multiplied by 40% to get the final calculation.
Certain scenarios, such as if 6 or more children are involved or if there is shared custody, will play a role in determining the appropriate amount of spousal support to be paid.
What If Something Changes?
If there are any major life events that change the circumstances of one of the spouses, a spouse can file a motion to change the amount of spousal support. If one of the spouses loses a job, loses a significant amount of income or becomes disabled, then the court can reexamine the spousal support order and modify it as needed.
What About Taxes?
Typically, the spouse who’s been ordered to pay spousal support can deduct the payments from his or her income. On the other hand, for the spouse who receives payment, the support is considered income and is taxable.
Ordered to Pay Spousal Support and Need a Philadelphia Divorce Attorney?
If a court has determined that you are required to pay spousal support to an ex, you are going to need a qualified professional to help you navigate through the legal ins and outs. That is what the experienced divorce lawyers at Sadek and Cooper Law Offices assist you with to make sure you understand and are comfortable with the process from the beginning to end.