Understanding Spousal Support in Pennsylvania

The main goal of spousal support, or alimony, is to help a lower-earning, soon-to-be ex-spouse transition into a lifestyle where they can support themselves. It is important to keep in mind that alimony and child support are two separate payments. Although every divorce is different, there are some basics about how spousal support works.

How is Alimony Determined?

Every state has certain laws that factor into alimony determinations. This is separate from child support, which is usually calculated using a formula. A judge decides how much spousal support to award by considering how long the couple was married, each person’s age and health, how they treated each other, and both of their abilities to work.

The court will also look at each party’s financial status, the lower-earning person’s need for support, the lower paying person’s ability to provide alimony, and what seems fair for both. In the end, the amount as well as the duration of the spousal support will be dictated by the judge.

Are There Different Types of Spousal Support?

During the divorce process, spouses have to keep paying mortgage or rent, taxes, and other bills. Judges may decide to order temporary spousal support to ensure that the spouses can be financially solvent until the divorce is finalized. In Pennsylvania, alimony pendente lite can be awarded to a dependent spouse once the couple is separated, although it terminates after one spouse files for a divorce.

Rehabilitative spousal support is another kind of temporary alimony. It is designed to allow an unemployed spouse sufficient time and finances to eventually be self-supporting. A judge may award rehabilitative alimony to a spouse who does not have the necessary education or job skills to find a job. Lump-sum alimony is another type of spousal support. It is a one-time payment of a fixed amount that is paid upfront and cannot changed in the future.

Additionally, a permanent spousal support is paid on an ongoing basis until the receiving spouse or providing spouse dies, or the receiving spouse remarries. In some cases, state laws mandate that permanent spousal support must end if the recipient ends up moving in with a new partner; cohabitation laws may apply. Periodic monthly alimony payments are the most common kind of spousal support.

 What if the Payments are Not Made?

A spousal support determination is made in court, and once the divorce order is signed by a judge, the ex-spouses will know the amount and dates that the payments are due. Not everyone follows these schedules though, and if a spouse does not make the payments as ordered, the supported spouse may file a motion against their ex-partner. A hearing will be arranged to find out why this is happening.

Spouses who do not make these payments could be held in contempt of court and ordered to pay additional penalties and fines. The court can also require the spouse to pay retroactive spousal support for any payments that were missed.

Media Family Law Attorneys at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello Help Clients Get Needed Spousal Support

If your ex-spouse is not cooperating with your alimony payments, you can benefit from experienced legal guidance. Reach out to one of our caring Media family law attorneys at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello for help. Contact us online or call us at 610-892-4940 for a free consultation. Located in Media, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Media, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster, Montgomery County, Norristown, Philadelphia, Reading, and West Chester.