Who Is Entitled To Alimony In Pennsylvania
Nobody is entitled to alimony in Pennsylvania. It is not guaranteed and is not awarded automatically in all divorces.
Instead, alimony is purely discretionary based on findings by the court and using 17 factors listed in Section 3701 of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code.
A spouse seeking alimony must petition the court to request spousal support or negotiate it with their spouse through meditation.
Applying For Child Support
The child you’re seeking support for must have a legal father. Parents who weren’t married at the time of their child’s birth can establish paternity by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity together or opening a paternity case through a child support application.
Either parent can apply for child support online.
After your county’s Domestic Relations Section approves your application, both parents attend a meeting where a conference officer issues a temporary child support order.
If you disagree with the amount, you can appeal before the decision becomes a final order. Generally, you must file an appeal within 20 days. Then you’ll have a hearing before another officer or a judge, where a final decision is made. Every county has a different procedure, so check your local rules.
If You Dont Have Minor Children Use The Pennsylvania Support Formula For Couples Without Minor Children:
We will start with a calculation without children, so there will be no child support order. Either there are no children of the marriage or they are over eighteen and graduated from high school so there is not going to be a child support order. I just wanted to throw this in, and this may be obvious but, all these spousal support, alimony pendente lite, and alimony they are only payable, or it is only going to be an obligation if the two of you were married. If there was no marriage theres not going to be any of these. It comes up from time to time, someones lived together for twenty years, one of them comes in wondering if they are going to get alimony and the answer is no unless youve been married.
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Spousal Support & Child Support In Pennsylvania
When divorce or separation requires an ongoing child or spousal support payments, heated disagreements can arise. At Thomas Conrad & Conrad, our knowledgeable family law attorneys provide legal representation for clients involved in disputes over child support and spousal support in PA. Resolving these types of disputes through diplomatic negotiation, mediation, or skilled litigation can alleviate stress and help you come to a timely, fair resolution that keeps your familys best interests in mind.
The Basics Of Alimony
Before you know whether or not you qualify, you should really be aware of what alimony is. These monthly payments are ordered by a judge to help a spouse pay their financial obligations each month.
Alimony is often granted to a stay-at-home spouse, who sacrificed a career or schooling to support the other spouses career. It is meant to give this spouse some temporary financial relief while he or she looks into gainful employment, or the training he or she would need to obtain a position that can pay the bills and maintain a similar standard of living.
Alimony payments are ordered after the divorce is finalized. Pennsylvania also has two other types of payments that could be ordered. Spousal support is a payment given after the separation, but before the divorce is set in motion. Alimony pendente lite is a payment given while the divorce is pending.
At any given time, you may only receive one of these three payments. The court order must specify the amount of money that the receiving spouse will get each month, which keeps the number from fluctuating due to one spouses spending habits in a given time period.
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Awarding Alimony In Pennsylvania
Many people are under the misconception that when they divorce, the spouse that earns more will need to pay alimony to the lesser-earning spouse. However, this may not be the case. In fact, as long as both spouses are able to support themselves financially, alimony may not be awarded.
Only in situations in which one spouse relied on the other to support them financially will alimony be awarded. Perhaps one spouse has a medical condition that prevents them from earning a living, or maybe one spouse spent the last ten years as a homemaker and has no way to earn an income.
A higher-earning spouse may be ordered to provide financial support to the lesser-earning spouse temporarily or indefinitely in situations such as these.
Making A Case For Alimony
A judge’s alimony decision will be based on reasonable earnings that can be expected by the one paying the alimony. For example, if a doctor husband historically made $200,000 a year but decides he doesn’t want to work that hard anymore, the judge may still base the alimony on the $200,000. The doctor would need to prove he has a valid reason for not making the reasonably-expected salary. For instance, he might have a psychologist testify that the change was necessary for reasons of stress. There is still no guarantee that the judge will accept this argument if a good lawyer can argue successfully against the change.
The subjective nature of alimony awards underscores the importance of choosing an experienced lawyer who knows how to present to the court a clear argument for alimony, backed by financial facts and convincing arguments. At the Law Offices of Blitshtein and Weiss, P.C., we work with our clients for fair child support and alimony payments that will provide you and any children you may have with a good standard of living and the financial security you need to move on and build a new life for yourself. Call us in our Southampton office today at 364-4900 for a free consultation.
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How Much Alimony Will I Get In My Pennsylvania Divorce
Posted on by Kristen Anders Bojarski
There are a number of factors in the Pennsylvania Divorce code that the court must consider when determining whether to award Alimony. For purposes of this blog, lets assume that you are entitled to alimony. How much alimony will you get and for how long?
It comes down to income and expenses
There is no set formula or guideline in Pennsylvania for figuring out how much Alimony to award like there is for other types of support, such as child support, spousal support and Alimony Pendente Lite. Instead, the amount of alimony awarded is considered on a case by case basis.
Two big factors that the court considers is your monthly net income and your monthly expenses. You must show the court proof of your income and you must produce a monthly expense/budget sheet. Failure to show proof of your income and your expenses to the court will likely result in the court not awarding alimony at all.
Lets talk about monthly expenses
For expenses you have throughout the year, but not each month, divide them over 12 months to determine what the monthly cost is. For instance, if you spend $2,000 to go on a yearly vacation, the monthly expense would be $167 a month.
The key here is that your monthly expenses must be reasonable.
Monthly expenses must be reasonable
Does our standard of living during the marriage matter?
Avoid underreporting your monthly expenses
So how much Alimony are we talking about here?
For how long will I get alimony for?
Have More Questions Contact Rosen Family Law Group
If you have any more questions about alimony, or another divorce-related issue, theRosen Family Law Group would love to provide you with the answers you need! Our divorce lawyer in Pittsburgh has been devoted tofamily law exclusively fornearly 20 years, so we have both the book knowledge and first-hand experience you can trust.
to contact us today we look forward to hearing from you soon!
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Factors That Play A Role
In the state of Pennsylvania, alimony is defined as monthly payments made from one spouse to another. Many misconceptions exist regarding how spousal support is determined. The first, and most prominent, is that alimony will only be ordered in cases where the marriage lasted a number of years. Another misconception is that the receiving spouse is entitled to one year of spousal support for every three years of marriage. While these beliefs are based on some truth, there are a multitude of factors that are used to determine the amount of alimony payments. Other elements that a judge might consider when calculating spousal support or alimony include, but are not limited to:
- The reason the divorce is being sought and whether both spouses agree that the divorce is necessary
- How long the marriage lasted, and in most cases, a person will not be granted spousal support if the marriage ends after only a few months
- Whether or not the spouse that is more financially successful can afford to make monthly alimony payments
- Whether or not the receiving spouse has the ability to get a job and arrange their own finances
Am I Entitled To Alimony In Pa
No, there is no entitlement to alimony in Pennsylvania. Instead, it’s purely discretionary with the court, and based on 17 factors listed in Section 3701 of the PA Divorce Code. A spouse who seeks alimony must specifically ask for it in court or negotiate it with their spouse through the meditation process, which is always recommended first, if possible.
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Spousal Support And Alimony Pendente Lite
Spousal support and alimony pendente are intended to allow a lower income spouse to afford living expenses and legal representation during separation. Although both spousal support and alimony pendente lite refer to regular payments made before a divorce is final, there are significant differences.
Spousal support is requested by the lower income spouse before the divorce is initiated. This means you can request spousal support if youve left an abusive situation or if your spouse has moved out. However, your spousal support claim can be denied if you have provided grounds for divorce. This denial is called an entitlement defense and means any spouse who is abusive or has committed adultery can be denied spousal support benefits because they are not entitled to support.
Alimony pendente lite is awarded only after a divorce has been initiated. There is no entitlement defense for alimony pendente lite. You can request alimony pendente lite even if youve provided grounds for the divorce.
How To Modify Alimony In Pennsylvania
Either spouse can request a modificationeither to reduce or increase alimonyfrom the court, but only when the spouses don’t have a written agreement not to change the order. As long as modification isn’t prohibited by an agreement or order, a Pennsylvania judge can modify an alimony order when there are substantial and continuing changes in the circumstances of either party. .) For example, a change of income resulting from retirement might constitute a substantial change to modify an alimony award.
To modify an alimony order, the party seeking the change should file a Petition to Modify Alimony Order. The court will schedule a hearing to decide the matter. To see examples of petitions, check out Montgomery County’s instructions for filing a Petition to Modify and Philadelphia County’s fillable petition. Check with your local court clerk to see if the court requires you to use a certain form.
You might be able to file a petition for modification of alimony online if you’re also paying child supportyou can submit the petition through the PA Child Support Program, which will forward the request to the county domestic relations section. A court will still have to approve the modification.
Alternatively, former spouses could agree to mediate the issue of changing or terminating their alimony order. If they reach an agreement, they can submit it to the court to be entered as a new order.
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How Is Alimony Calculated In Reading Pennsylvania
In a normal alimony case, a judge must look at multiple factors about the two partners’ relationship, background, and previous history before deciding whether to grant alimony, as well as how much to grant.
According to Section 3701 of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code, the judge must carefully examine all these features to properly determine the extent and manner of alimony.
Some of these key factors include:
- Each of the parties current and past earnings, along with their potential capability of earning an income in the future
- The current ages of both parties, as well as their mental, emotional, and physical capabilities and conditions, both in the past and in the present
- Any other potential sources of financial aid for both parties, including such benefits as retirement, medical, insurance aid, or inheritances
- The potential expectancies of life, as well as conditions of the parties individual familial inheritances
- The length of the marriage
- The extent that one of the members of the marriage contributed to the education or career training of the other party, which could affect abilities to earn income
- Any financial expenses and obligations which one member will face as serving as the primary custodian of a child
- The level of each partys education
- The contribution of one partner as a homemaker
- Any possible form of domestic misconduct from either one of the partners
How Are Alimony Payments Enforced
When a spouse willfully or involuntarily falls behind and fails to pay alimony, there are several possible actions the other spouse and the courts can take. Under Section 3703 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, these actions include:
- Bringing contempt charges against the paying party
- The court can enter a judgment against the paying spouse.
- Seize the collection of rents and profits of the paying spouses real estate.
- Attach up to 50% of the paying spouses wages
- Award the receiving spouse interest on the unpaid balance.
- Award legal expenses and costs.
- Requiring the paying spouse to provide collateral to enforce their obligation
Under Pennsylvania law, in the most serious cases, the paying spouse can be declared in civil contempt of court, fined, and jailed for no more than six months.
When seeking enforcement of an alimony award, its often best to consult with an experienced divorce attorney or family law attorney.
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Calculate Alimony Using The Factors And A Needs
As an example, here I had that the lower-earning spouse earned $3,000 net a month. The court might look and say you know what that spouse actually needs $4,500 a month to get by. They will look at what is the spouses rent? What is their car payment? What are their food expenses? Utilities? They will add all of that up and say that comes up to about $4,500 and the spouse is only earning $3,000 a month, they are going to award the difference as alimony. It might be $1,500 a month. Thats just an example, they are going to obviously take consideration can the obligor pay that? Whats he or she making? But thats an analysis that a lot of courts like to do. Some of the other courts will just apply the spousal support or APL formula and thats what they will award as alimony. In Bucks County Pennsylvania, thats what they do. They dont even look at the factors they will just use the formula.
Make Adjustments For Additional Expenses
Finally, you need to adjust the individual basic support obligation to account for additional expenses like child care, health insurance premiums and private school tuition.
If parents have , they typically split these costs 50/50. In other physical custody arrangements, each parent pays an amount proportionate to their share of the income .
Determine how much the parent with less custody time should pay for additional expenses according to these guidelines. If they should pay more than they currently do, add the difference to their basic support obligation. If they should pay less than they currently do, subtract the difference from their basic support obligation.
Round the adjusted amount to the nearest whole dollar. This is how much the parent with less custody time owes monthly, per Pennsylvania guidelines.
Example: Keith and Audrey’s only additional expense is health insurance for the children. It totals $400 a month, and Audrey currently covers $100. Since she has partial custody and makes 58.33 percent of the combined income, she should pay $233 for the insurance . In other words, she is paying $133 less than she should. This amount gets added to her basic support obligation for a total of $1,160.19.
After rounding, Audrey owes Keith $1,160 a month in child support, according to the state guidelines.
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