PA Alimony Factors Related to Support: Show Me the Money Part 2
Now that you’re familiar with what alimony is (for a recap, see this /blog/2013/09/alimony-and-support-in-pennsylvania-show-me-the-money.shtml blog post), the next question is “how much”? How much do I have to pay? How much do I get? Do I even qualify for alimony?
In Pennsylvania, the Court will look at all of the facts of each couple’s relationship to determine whether an alimony award is necessary and appropriate and, if so, how much alimony should be awarded, in what form of payment, and for what period of time. The following are the factors used by the court to evaluate the couple’s circumstances and make a determination as to alimony.
1. What each party earns and what each party is able to earn. Even if a spouse is unemployed at the time of the divorce or earns substantially less than the other spouse, a court can still hold the unemployed spouse to a prior earning capacity. For example, a spouse used to make $50,000, but after they filed for divorce, they took a job out of state for $24,000. That spouse may be held to an earning capacity of $50,000, even though they currently make only $24,000.
2. The parties’ relative physical, mental, and emotional health, along with their age, are considered for their impact on each party’s ability to earn a living.
3. Each party’s source(s) of income, including, wages, retirement, insurance and medical benefits, among other things.
4. Whether either party expects to receive a large inheritance or windfall in the future.
5. How long the marriage lasted.
6. Whether one spouse contributed to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party. For example, did Wife work and help Husband pay for medical school? If so, the Court will consider the fact that Wife helped Husband earn a degree that gives him the ability to earn more money.
1. Whether a party has custody of a minor child or children (whether from the marriage, or from another relationship) and how having custody will affect their earning power, expenses or financial obligations.
2. The standard of living established by the parties during the marriage. One of the Court’s goals in awarding alimony is to ensure that the parties are able to continue living the lifestyle they lived while they were married. If the couple enjoyed a very lavish lifestyle while married, the Court will take that into consideration in determining an alimony award.
3. Relative education of the parties and the time necessary for a party to acquire training or earn a degree in order for them to gain appropriate employment.
4. Each party’s assets and liabilities. What resources and debts will have an impact on a party’s ability to support themselves independently?
5. Property brought into the marriage by either party. What resources did each party bring into the marriage to help support the family?
6. Contributions made by a spouse as a homemaker. The Court recognizes that, without a stay-at-home spouse, income and expenses could have been drastically different. The Court always considers the valuable contribution made by a spouse who worked inside the home as a homemaker.
7. Relative needs of the parties. Is one party disabled? Are they incapable of supporting themselves for some reason? Is there anything that makes either party need more money?
8. The marital misconduct of either party during the marriage. This is one of the biggest issues divorced couples ask about. If my spouse cheated on me, does that automatically mean I get alimony? No, there’s no automatic alimony associated with adultery, however, it will be one of the things the Court considers. Any misconduct that occurred after the parties separated is not considered when determining alimony.
9. Tax ramifications of an alimony award.
10. Whether the party seeking alimony does not have sufficient property and resources, even after marital property is distributed, to provide for their own reasonable needs.
If you need clarification on alimony or are in need of legal assistance with a divorce or alimony matter, contact McMorrow Law, LLC at 724-940-0100