Alimony, properly called “spousal support” in Pennsylvania, is granted when one spouse is financially dependent on the other. If you’re getting a divorce in Pennsylvania, you should know that the financially dependent spouse may be entitled to alimony while the divorce is in process. This is called “alimony pendente lite” or APL.
There is no formula that determines whether a person will receive APL or long-term spousal support. It is not granted in every divorce. In general, courts analyze the situation after the equitable division of the marital estate (property division) and grant spousal support if it appears necessary to help the financially dependent spouse get back on his or her feet.
That said, APL is granted for the duration of the divorce process, so the determination of whether APL is justified happens before property division.
What do courts weigh when considering spousal support?
The court will first determine whether spousal support is necessary at all. If it finds that it is necessary, it will then determine the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment.
This determination weighs “all relevant factors,” which can include:
- The relative income and earning capacities of the spouses
- Their relative assets and liabilities
- Their ages and their physical, mental and emotional condition
- Their sources of income, including their medical, retirement, insurance and other benefits
- Any expectancies or inheritances
- Any property brought to the marriage by either spouse
- Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to meet their reasonable needs
- The length of the marriage
- Whether one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education, training or increased earning capacity
- The effect custody of a minor child may have on the parties’ earning power, expenses and financial obligations
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The spouses’ relative education levels and the time necessary to obtain sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment
- One spouse’s contribution as a homemaker
- The relative needs of the spouses
- Marital misconduct that occurred before final separation
- The federal, state and local tax implications of the proposed alimony award
- Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment
Your divorce lawyer can help you make a strong argument for or against the imposition of alimony by looking at your specific circumstances and comparing them to this list of relevant factors. Your specific situation may also include additional factors to be considered.