How does alimony work in Pennsylvania?

If you and your spouse are divorcing, your financial circumstances will likely change. Your spouse may have earned more than you during your marriage. Without their income, you might have concerns about maintaining your standard of living or making ends meet. Yet, you may fear that any alimony you receive will prove insufficient. Pennsylvania’s laws, though, will ensure you receive a fair award.

Different types of alimony

While other states use the term spousal support as a substitute for alimony, it is a separate category of maintenance in Pennsylvania. You will receive spousal support if you and your spouse separate before filing for divorce. Yet, you might need help keeping up your standard of living while your divorce is pending. Or, you may require assistance paying your legal fees so you can move forward with your divorce. In these cases, you can petition the court to award you alimony pendente lite. Alimony, then, is any support you receive once your divorce finalizes.

Factors in awarding alimony

You and your spouse may have drafted a prenuptial agreement before your wedding, or a postnuptial agreement afterward. Rather than following Pennsylvania’s alimony laws, a judge will uphold the terms of your agreement instead, so long as they are valid. If you do not have an agreement, they will follow the state’s guidelines.

Pennsylvania courts do not make automatic alimony awards in divorces. Rather, in ruling on your case, a judge will examine your marital circumstances. They may consider:

  • The duration of you and your spouse’s marriage
  • The property you and your spouse brought into your marriage
  • You and your spouse’s age and overall health
  • You and your spouse’s sources of income
  • You and your spouse’s earning capacities
  • Whether you or your spouse’s earning capacities have been affected by taking care of a minor child
  • Whether you or your spouse contributed to the other’s education or training
  • Whether you require education or training to become self-sufficient
  • Whether you or your spouse engaged in marital misconduct before the date of your separation

Few bars to alimony exist in Pennsylvania. Yet, if you cohabit with a partner besides your spouse prior to your divorce, you cannot receive it as part of your settlement.

The alimony you receive will help you establish yourself financially after your divorce. A family law attorney can help you work to achieve a fair award.


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