Alimony and support in Pennsylvania: Show Me the Money!! Support for a spouse no matter at what stage he/she is in, is difficult to navigate.
When our clients go through a divorce, one of their most common questions is about alimony – Will they have to pay it? Will they receive it? How much will they get? The answer to this question, like so many other questions related to divorces, depends on the circumstances.
What is alimony? Essentially, alimony is an allowance payment that is ordered by the court or agreed to by contract. One spouse pays alimony to the other spouse for maintenance and support after a divorce decree is entered for a defined period of time. An award of alimony is separate and distinct from equitable distribution of property. Either husband or wife may be ordered to pay alimony – it is not a responsibility of the husband only. For federal income tax purposes, generally alimony is a deductible item for the payor spouse and it is taxable income to the payee spouse.
The purpose of alimony is to ensure that a spouse who is truly in need of additional resources immediately following a divorce receives enough income to meet their reasonable needs, as measured by the couple’s standard of living during their marriage and a variety of other factors. If a party wants to request alimony, they must raise the issue in their divorce complaint. If a party neglects to raise the issue in a timely manner, their claim to alimony will be deemed waived. Spousal support in the form of “alimony pendente lite” a/k/a “alimony pending litigation” (APL) can be ordered while the divorce is pending, if the court finds such payments are necessary. An award of alimony will only be entered after a divorce decree is entered.
Alimony payments most often last for a finite period of time, as it is presumed that the payee spouse will be able to, over time, find employment or utilize other resources to support themselves. Divorced couples should not be expected to rely upon each other financially for an indefinite period of time except in rare circumstances usually involving a dependent spouse’s disability or health problems.
The court evaluates a claim for alimony based on all of the facts and circumstances of the couple’s relationship. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on these factors and how the court uses them to decide who gets what. In the meantime, if you need to consult with our team of alimony attorneys, contact McMorrow Law, LLC at 724-940-0100 for a free 30 minute consultation.