An overview of spousal support factors in Pennsylvania

If a Pennsylvania couple can agree on a settlement when their marriage ends, the court will not need to get involved. However, if the parties are unable to do so, the Court of Common Pleas will use a set of factors to determine whether one spouse should pay the other alimony and if so how that will fit into the overall decree.

Spousal support is unlikely to be awarded unless a party needs financial assistance to pay bills and maintain a standard of living. It might be ordered on a temporary basis until the recipient becomes financially independent. Both the spouse’s current income and earning potential are examined by the court. This could include work experience, job skills and education. Whether a party needs time to get more training and money to support this endeavor will be considered. Spouses asking for alimony might not be eligible for support if they are able to support themselves through reasonable employment.

Any potential inheritances will be factored in along with assets and liabilities as they will affect a person’s overall financial well-being. Both what the couple owned while married and separate property from before the marriage could influence the court’s decision. The spouses’ respective health and age are considered as well as how long a marriage lasted and whether there was any marital misconduct. Also taken into account is what a spouse might have contributed to the other’s ability to have a career, such as time spent as a homemaker. Efforts required to care for minor children following a divorce are taken into account as well.

Spouses might find a quicker resolution by working together outside of court to reach an accord on these matters. An attorney who has experience in divorce law can assist a client in the negotiation of a comprehensive settlement agreement.

Source: Divorce Support, “Pennsylvania Spousal Support/Maintenance/Alimony Factors“, September 23, 2014

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