Alimony/Maintenance/Spousal Support in a Pennsylvania Divorce
See generally: Article on Alimony and Support (FAQs)
Alimony is payment made by one party to the other after the divorce, either by court order or by mutual agreement. This type of post-divorce payment is also sometimes referred to as maintenance. Until 1980, there were no provisions under Pennsylvania law for alimony. The Divorce Code of 1980 provides that the court may allow alimony to either party "only if it finds that alimony is necessary."
Under Pennsylvania law, married people are financially responsible for each other - the husband has a duty to support his wife, and the wife has a duty to support her husband. This duty lasts until the final Decree in Divorce is granted. It doesn't stop simply because the couple separates. Once the parties file for a mutual-consent no-fault divorce, they must wait at least 90 days and often significantly longer before the final Decree in Divorce is granted. During this period, an agreement on support payments may be appropriate if the parties are separated.
Alimony in Pennsylvania is authorized in limited situations and is not the broad remedy that it is in other states. Alimony in Pennsylvania is either "rehabilitative" or "permanent" .
Rehabilitative alimony is intended to be a short-term measure which enables a spouse to get back on his or her feet. Alimony is awarded to enable the other spouse to go back to school or to acquire needed skills that would enable the spouse to be competitive in the job market. Usually a spouse who has chosen the role of becoming a homemaker and raising children has not been able to develop the skills necessary for productive and gainful employment.
"Permanent alimony" continues for a long period of time, possibly until the death of the party receiving the alimony and is usually awarded when one of the parties is unable to work due to age physical or mental illness.
If the court determines that a spouse is eligible for alimony, the following factors are then considered in the award:
|the financial resources of the spouse seeking alimony, including both separate and community property and liabilities;
|the spouse's ability to meet his or her needs independently;
|the education and employment skills of the spouses;
|the time necessary for the supported spouse to acquire sufficient training or education to enable him or her to find employment;
|the availability and feasibility of that training;
|the duration of the marriage;
|the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking alimony;
|the ability of the supporting spouse to meet their own needs and make any child support payments;
|excessive or abnormal expenditures, concealment or destruction of any property by either spouse;
|the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits, and any separate property;
|the contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
|the contribution of either spouse as homemaker;
|any marital misconduct of the spouse seeking alimony;
|whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs;
|the efforts of the spouse seeking alimony to obtain self-support skills while the divorce is pending or during any separation; and
|property brought to the marriage by either spouse.
|any tax ramifications;