Alimony – also known as spousal support – is money one ex-spouse pays the other after divorce. This money is intended to pay for housing, food, and similar necessities for the spouse, as well as maintain their standard of living from marriage. Depending on the parties’ needs, alimony could be granted on a short-term or long-term basis. However, if things change after alimony is granted, the court may extend an alimony order.
If you are paying or receiving alimony, you may be able to get the court order modified. If your alimony order was temporary, but you need it extended, talk to an attorney today. Alternatively, if your former spouse requested an unfair alimony extension, you may also need an attorney to fight the extension. The Philadelphia spousal support lawyers at the Law Offices of Sadek and Cooper represent divorced Pennsylvanians throughout the greater Philadelphia area for any of their divorce or family law needs.
Pennsylvania Alimony Rules
In Pennsylvania, alimony (a.k.a. spousal support) is only granted in cases where the court finds it necessary. Alimony may be granted for a few different reasons. Depending on the purpose of the alimony, it is often referred to as these different “types” of alimony:
- Rehabilitative alimony – used to support a newly-divorced person temporarily, until they can support themselves financially.
- Reimbursement alimony – used to pay back a spouse who contributed to the cost of the other’s education or training.
- Permanent alimony – used to give an ex-spouse ongoing support.
For many people who wish to receive alimony, permanent alimony may be the ideal. This kind of alimony is especially helpful for those who are handicapped, elderly, or otherwise unable to work. It is also excellent for full-time parents who are unable to work while raising children. Permanent alimony can last for the rest of the individual’s life, but may be modified after big life changes.
Rehabilitative alimony is common in divorces where the spouses are young, well-educated, and able to work. After ending a marriage where one spouse did not work, that spouse may need time to get back on their feet. Rehabilitative alimony can pay for housing, food, and other necessities while the ex-spouse looks for a job or returns to school. Reimbursement alimony, like rehabilitative alimony, is often temporary.
Alimony pendente lite may also be available during divorce proceedings. This alimony is only available while the divorce “litigation” is “pending” (hence the name). This money is used to pay for a divorce attorney, as well as housing and other necessities, until the divorce is finalized. After the divorce is finalized, permanent or temporary alimony could be granted in its place.
Modifying and Extending Alimony
If you are currently receiving rehabilitative alimony or some other limited form of spousal support, you may want alimony payments to last longer. Granting alimony depends on 17 alimony factors in Pennsylvania. Many of these help a court determine the amount and the length for an alimony order. If a court determined you only needed temporary alimony, there are conditions you must meet to extend the alimony or convert it to permanent alimony.
In order to modify an alimony order, you must prove that circumstances have changed since the court made the order. 23 Pa.C.S. § 3701(e) states that, to change alimony orders, a party must show “changed circumstances of either party of a substantial and continuing nature.” A change is typically “substantial” if it has a big impact in the need for alimony. Getting a new job may be a substantial change that could convince a court alimony is no longer necessary. Alternatively, losing one’s job may show a court more alimony is necessary. A change must also be “continuing,” meaning that it will have an impact on the need for alimony for a long time.
When a court grants (or denies) alimony, 23 Pa.C.S. § 3701(d) requires the judge to explain the reasons for setting alimony as it was set. These factors are typically the ones that, if changed, may require a change in alimony. For instance, if the judge bases a decision to deny alimony on the fact that both parties have similar income, losing one’s job may be a substantial change that could lead a court to reconsider an alimony order.
There are many reasons alimony orders may change, but more of these reasons work to reduce alimony or shorten the time period than to extend it. For instance, if the party paying alimony loses their job or becomes handicapped, or if the recipient finds a new job or attains a new degree, alimony may be reduced or stopped. However, there are still reasons that might prompt a court to extend alimony, so talk to an attorney about your alimony modification options today.
Philadelphia Alimony Modification Attorney
Whether you are trying to have alimony payments increased or decreased, talk to an attorney today. The Philadelphia family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Sadek and Cooper can work for alimony recipients or payors to extend or shorted alimony orders. For a free consultation on your alimony case, call 215-814-0395 today.