Guidelines on Eligibility for Alimony in Pennsylvania
May 11, 2022

Pennsylvania alimony can be more stressful, emotional, and difficult for separating couples to overcome than any other regarding money and divorce.

When it comes to alimony in PA, discussions can quickly shift from agreement and understanding to dissatisfaction and disappointment.

After receiving many inquiries about alimony from current and potential clients, we felt compelled to explain how a spouse’s right to alimony in Pennsylvania works. Learn more about alimony in 2022 and where to find an alimony attorney in Pennsylvania.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is a court-ordered payment made by one ex-spouse to the other after a divorce. When a couple divorces, it is not unusual for the lower-earning spouse (or the spouse with the lower-earning capacity) to want financial support to get back on their feet. Alimony payments aid in the transition to retirement and help ensure their financial future.

In Pennsylvania, What Is the Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Support?

Alimony is support that is paid following the entry of a divorce decree. Aside from alimony, there is also:

Spousal Support

This is temporary financial support paid to a spouse after separation but before the divorce is finalized. Spousal support is calculated by the courts using the Pennsylvania Guidelines for Spousal Support. If the court awards spousal support based on the Guidelines, a spouse may request a variation by demonstrating a greater financial need than the Guidelines allow.

Alimony Pendente Lite

Like spousal support, Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) is intended to be temporary. It is granted while a divorce is pending and is available to a spouse who financially qualifies for spousal support, but who is not entitled to spousal support for another reason.

A lower earning spouse may not be entitled to spousal support if the court determines that this spouse was at fault for the separation (for example, if the spouse committed adultery or abandonment). This type of support can help place both spouses on more equal footing while the divorce is litigated in order to afford the divorce costs. There are various time constraints on how long APL can last, especially if the spouse receiving APL is determined to be intentionally prolonging the divorce.

Latest Changes

Due to modifications in alimony reform as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Alimony, spousal support and APL are no longer considered taxable income to the payee or deductible for the payor. As a result, the Support Guidelines calculation mechanism for spousal support and APL underwent two major adjustments on January 1, 2019. The new formula and approach no longer allows the paying spouse to deduct spousal support/APL payments from their income. As a result, the Support Guidelines have been adjusted to balance the tax deduction by paying less spousal support/APL.

The spousal support/APL award amount is now considered part of the receiving spouse’s income, which is another factor. This can impact the amount of child support paid/received and it is used to assign percentage splits for out-of-pocket, unreimbursed healthcare expenses and premiums for the spouse and children.

As of January 1, 2019, the recipient spouse pays a bigger share of these costs than previously. This also compensates for the loss of the payor’s tax savings due to the omission of the deduction.

What Are the Factors Used to Determine Alimony Awards In Pennsylvania?

The 17 alimony criteria evaluated by Pennsylvania courts are listed below (from Section 3701 of the PA Divorce Code). During divorce mediation, these are thoroughly examined to establish the most equitable alimony settlement feasible.

  • Both spouses’ wages.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • The ages of the spouses and their physical, mental, and emotional situations.
  • Both couples’ sources of income, including medical, retirement, insurance, and other benefits.
  • Estimated future earnings and inheritances.
  • The extent to which one spouse has contributed to the education, training, or increased earning potential of the other spouse.
  • The extent to which a spouse’s financial situation will be influenced by their role as a minor child’s primary caregiver.
  • The spouses’ standard of living, as established during the marriage.
  • The parties’ relative levels of education. This also considers the time it would take for the alimony-seeking spouse to obtain education or training to find work.
  • The assets and liabilities of both spouses in relation to one another.
  • The assets that each partner contributed to the marriage.
  • The role of each spouse in caring for the home and the children during the marriage, particularly if one spouse worked outside of the home and the other did not.
  • The spouses’ respective needs.
  • Whether either of the partners engaged in marital misconduct during the marriage. In this context, “abuse” is defined in Section 6102.
  • Alimony’s federal, state, and local tax implications.
  • Whether the alimony-seeking spouse has enough property to meet their reasonable demands, including things from Chapter 35 relating to property rights.
  • Whether the alimony-seeking spouse is unable to support themselves through suitable employment.

Neither the courtroom nor the mediation process considers gender. Alimony in PA is only focused on either spouse’s genuine financial needs. According to a new survey by Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends, the number of fathers who stay at home to raise their children has climbed dramatically, particularly among those in their 40s.

In Pennsylvania, Are You Eligible For Alimony?

In Pennsylvania, there is no automatic legal right to alimony. Instead, the court must decide eligibility based on 17 considerations specified in Section 3701 of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code. If a spouse wants alimony, they must ask for it in court or negotiate it with their spouse through settlement or mediation, which is always suggested prior to litigation in Court. They may also consult with a family law firm in Pennsylvania for further details.

Are you looking for an alimony attorney in Pennsylvania? Daley Zucker has skilled attorneys in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that specialize in family law, estate planning, and other areas of law. Please get in touch with us right away!

Contact Us