Alimony is often one of the most complicated issues in a Pennsylvania couple’s divorce. During the divorce proceedings, the court may order the higher-earning spouse to pay their lesser-earning spouse a set amount of money each month to give the lesser-earning spouse time to become financially self-sufficient after the divorce. The purpose of alimony is to limit the financial struggles of a lesser-earning spouse as they transition into single life.
The court will generally consider various factors when determining how much alimony to award. The court will look at both spouses’ ages, income, assets, education and job skills, as well as the duration of the marriage. A stay-at-home spouse that has been out of the work force for a couple of decades may need a more substantial amount of alimony to acquire the necessary skills to re-enter the work force after the divorce. The lesser-earning spouse will only be paid until the pre-determined alimony termination date or until he or she remarries, whichever comes first. However, in some cases (e.g. if a lesser-earning spouse is physically unable to work), permanent alimony may be awarded.
Under Title 23, Pa. C.S.A. Sec. 3701, the court may also grant the lesser-earning spouse temporary spousal support to help them in the time after the separation but before the divorce is finalized.
While the idea of alimony is to help the lesser-earning spouse, that doesn’t mean that the court will ignore the needs of the higher-earning spouse. The court will also look at how much the higher-earning spouse can pay in alimony while still being able to support themselves.
Whether you are the higher-earning spouse or lesser-earning spouse, a family law attorney can ensure that your needs are protected throughout the divorce process.