Basics of spousal support and what warrants a modification

If you are going through a divorce, you may be wondering if you are eligible to receive spousal support. The judge considers granting support, also known as alimony, based off a variety of factors, and the duration of payments varies.

As life changes, circumstances may change as well. If there is a long-term change for either the payer or receiver, one can request an alimony modification.

Alimony categories

According to FindLaw, alimony falls into three categories:

  • Spousal support – temporary support paid after the separation begins but before the filing of the divorce
  • Alimony pedente lite – temporary support to help a spouse move forward while the divorce is pending
  • Alimony – temporary or long-term financial support after the finalization of the divorce

Factors involved in alimony determination

The judge looks at various factors to determine if either spouse deserves financial support. The duration of the marriage and the ages of each party are factors. So are each party’s current income and earning capacity, income sources, personal assets of each party and the standard of living during the marriage. According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the judge will also consider marital conduct, such as infidelity or abuse, when determining the approval or denial of alimony.

Duration of support

The duration varies greatly. A judge may grant support on a temporary basis to allow the alimony receiver to earn an education or find a job. The judge may also order indefinite alimony, especially if the marriage was long-term and one of the spouses was a homemaker.

Reasons for modification and termination

Either the alimony payer or receiver may request a modification; however, the reasons must be justifiable. If there is a significant and long-term change in income for either party, the judge may order an increase, decrease or termination of paid support. There is also a termination of alimony if the person receiving alimony remarries.


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