Not every divorce will include an award of alimony. The court has the right to order payment in every case, but the judge must consider the need and make the judgment based on specific factors.
Pennsylvania law outlines what a judge must consider when deciding if spousal support is a need in a case.
One of the important factors a judge will look at is whether the spouse requesting support needs it. Need often depends on the person’s ability to support him or herself. The court will consider his or her current finances, earning capacity, education, future inheritances and assets to get an idea of whether the person is able to provide for him or herself.
In high-asset divorces, the court may base decisions on the ability to support oneself based on the standard of living during the marriage. In the typical situation, though, the court is looking for the ability to take care of immediate and necessary needs.
The court can also consider how each party acted during the marriage. For example, if the spouse requesting support had an affair, it could play into the judge’s decision. Abuse will also impact the order.
The judge will consider the general health of each person. If one spouse has serious health issues, it can impact a decision. For example, the spouse who asks for alimony may not get it if the other person has serious health problems.
The judge must weigh all imperative factors when making a decision about spousal support. The law requires a clear weighing of the situation to determine and prove a real need for the payments.