In many states, spousal support and alimony are interchangeable terms. They both refer to monetary payments that one spouse makes to the other after divorce. However, in Pennsylvania, spousal support and alimony each refer to something unique, which can cause confusion.
We at Divorce Done Right help couples navigate the ins and outs of spousal support and alimony. Our attorneys bring decades of combined experience to each client’s case. Whether you need help securing support or you will need to provide support, we can advocate for your best interests.
Spousal Support Vs. Alimony in Pennsylvania
Spousal support, alimony, and alimony pendente lite are three separate but similar concepts in Pennsylvania divorce law. The type of support that affects your case depends on the timing of the divorce action.
Spousal support refers to payments made during the separation period, prior to the divorce. It may be awarded before divorce proceedings begin as long as the parties are separated.
Alimony always refers to post-divorce payments.
Alimony pendente lite is temporary support. Similar to spousal support, alimony pendente lite may be awarded only after the divorce proceedings have begun.
In short, spousal support in Pennsylvania refers to payments made during the separation period, before the divorce is finalized. Alimony refers to post-divorce payments.
Determining Support Payments
Pennsylvania provides certain guidelines to determine support. The court identifies appropriate support amounts with factors such as these in mind:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s income and earning capacity
- The spouses’ prior standard of living
- Any expected inheritances
- A presence of young children
- Employment opportunities available to the spouse requesting support
- How much the supported spouse has contributed to the other’s attainment of education or a professional license
Pennsylvania law does not guarantee spousal support. The court will only award it if one spouse needs help meeting his or her financial needs, and the other spouse is financially capable of providing that help. It’s not unheard of for spousal support claims to be denied by an entitlement defense, but it’s rare for the court to deny alimony pendente lite claims.
Types of Alimony in PA
There are three types of alimony in Pennsylvania:
- Rehabilitative alimony: Temporary financial support for a fixed period of time while a spouse completes education or training to become self-supporting.
- Reimbursement alimony: Awarded as payment for expenses paid on behalf of the other spouse for things like education, medical bills or marital debt.
- Permanent alimony (rare): Payments for the rest of the former spouse’s lifetime or until the dependent spouse remarries.
It is important to consult a divorce attorney for spousal support in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania early in the divorce process. An experienced lawyer can advise you on the best course of action based on your financial situation and divorce or separation plan.
Schedule a Consultation with a Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer
If you are facing a spousal support situation, Divorce Done Right can help. Call (866) 302-9939 to schedule a consultation. The initial meeting is a time to discuss your situation, learn about our process, and get advice regarding your rights and responsibilities under Pennsylvania law.