Alimony, also known as spousal support, is not an automatic entitlement in divorce proceedings. Instead, it serves as a means to rectify financial imbalances arising from the divorce. When one spouse experiences a financial setback following separation or divorce, and the other possesses the financial capacity to provide assistance, the court may grant alimony to the financially disadvantaged ex-spouse, often requiring the expertise of a divorce lawyer. Typically, spousal support/alimony is of a temporary nature, designed to act as a financial bridge. Its purpose is to afford the recipient spouse an opportunity to achieve a more stable financial standing through additional education, vocational training, or work experience.
Types of Alimony in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, there are formally two categories of alimony recognized by the law: pendente lite (pre-divorce) and post-divorce alimony. Nevertheless, two additional forms of financial support between spouses—spousal support and equitable reimbursement—are frequently colloquially referred to as alimony.
Pendente Lite Alimony
Pendente lite alimony and/or spousal support, often referred-to as temporary alimony, is the financial support one spouse may be required to provide to the other after separation or during the divorce proceedings. It is intended to help the lower-earning spouse maintain financial stability throughout the divorce process until a final alimony arrangement is determined. Once the divorce is finalized, this type of alimony typically transitions into a different form of support or ceases altogether.
Post-divorce alimony, also known as permanent alimony, is financial assistance one spouse may be required to provide to the other after the divorce is finalized. Its purpose is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a certain standard of living or financial stability following the end of the marriage. The duration and amount of post-divorce alimony are determined by the court based on various factors, and it typically continues until specified conditions are met, such as the recipient spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation.
In Pennsylvania, when one spouse financially supports the other’s education or training during the marriage but divorce occurs before the benefit is realized, equitable reimbursement may be awarded by a judge. It is not alimony; instead, it compensates the supporting spouse for their investment in the other’s education. The judge assesses whether the supporting spouse benefited from the increased earning capacity and may order periodic payments if deemed fair. If you find yourself in such a situation, consulting with an experienced spousal support attorney can provide essential guidance.
How Alimony is Different from Child Support
Distinguishing between alimony and child support is vital:
Recipients: Alimony aids the lower-earning spouse, while child support benefits children through the custodial parent.
Purpose: Alimony addresses spousal financial disparities; child support ensures a child’s well-being.
Duration: Alimony varies, but child support typically lasts until children reach adulthood or financial independence.
Taxes: Alimony tax laws have changed, so it is wise to seek professional advice.
In the event of complications contact us for the best child support lawyer.
How Child Custody Affects Alimony
Child custody arrangements can significantly influence alimony payments during divorce or separation. The financial responsibilities tied to caring for children may lead to adjustments in alimony amounts. When a mother has primary custody but possesses a lower net income, she will receive both alimony and child support. However, if the mother maintains primary custody and has a higher net income, the dynamic shifts, with her paying alimony to the father while also receiving child support from him. Good child custody lawyers will advise you on the intricacies so you can make informed decisions.
Modifying an Alimony Agreement in Pennsylvania
Courts typically grant alimony modifications in situations that are either long-term or permanent, which are relatively uncommon. While either party can request changes to a court-ordered alimony agreement, they must demonstrate significant changes in specific circumstances. For instance, if the spouse receiving alimony cohabitates or remarries, the paying spouse can seek termination of alimony payments. Conversely, the paying spouse may request a modification if their financial situation substantially changes due to job loss or illness.
Additionally, if the contributing spouse experiences a significant increase in income, the alimony recipient may seek a modification to raise the support payments. If you are contemplating a modification for any of these reasons, consulting with your alimony lawyer is essential to explore available options.
Divorce and separation matters can often be emotionally charged, particularly when spousal support or alimony becomes a point of contention. At Perna & Abracht, LLC, our team of family law attorneys specializes in offering skilled legal counsel to navigate these issues. Whether through effective negotiation or litigation, our alimony lawyers are committed to safeguarding our clients’ best interests, including those of their children. We are here to provide clarity on the factors influencing spousal support and alimony decisions, as well as to explore all available options tailored to your unique situation.