How Alimony Is Determined In Pennsylvania

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We’ve always heard some of our favorite TV characters joke about alimony after their dramatic on-screen divorce. But, when it comes to real life, how is alimony determined in the state of Pennsylvania? There is pre- and post-divorce support offered in the state of Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania law permits two types of support before the divorce is finalized: spousal support and alimony pendente lite. The difference between these two support types is: spousal support is offered to the dependent spouse after separation but ends when divorce is filed. Alimony pendente lite is offered after divorce is filed and ends when the divorce is finalized by a judge. In order to calculate the pre-divorce support, the court must determine that one spouse is financially dependent on the other. 

Post-divorce support, or alimony, is reserved for cases when one spouse is financially dependent on the other and cannot meet their basic needs after the finalized divorce. The expectation is that both spouses are self-sufficient after the divorce, but there are situations where that is not the case. Most of the time, this is referred to as short-term or rehabilitation alimony, as it is not meant for long-term. Permanent alimony is not common, however in certain cases when a spouse cannot become financially independent due to health complications, advanced age or having been out of the job market for a prolonged time. There is no specific formula to calculate alimony, but judges evaluate several factors to determine the type, amount and duration. 

Short-term post-divorce alimony comes to an end on a selected date by a judge, or when a specific event occurs. Permanent alimony sometimes ends due to a judge-set date, or when one spouse dies, the supported spouse remarries or the supported spouse lives with a third-party married couple. Either spouse can always ask the court to re-evaluate alimony, but the court will only review the case if the requesting spouse can prove a change in the situation. 

To pay alimony, there are two routes a supporting spouse can take. Either pay a lump sum or periodic payments. If the payment plan is not agreed upon by couples, the court can order the payments be sent to the domestic relations section of court – meaning the payment would be taken out directly from the supporting spouse’s paycheck. Alimony used to have an associated tax-deduction, but as of January 2019, it is no longer tax-deductible for newly established orders. 

In order to be up to date with the latest in alimony laws and divorce, be sure to consult an experienced divorce attorney to help you navigate the process. 

The attorneys at Sadek and Cooper Law Offices have handled hundreds of divorces in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties of Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, and Chester. We are also licensed in the State of New Jersey. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation at 215-545-0008.

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