Spousal Support is the financial support that can be provided to a spouse if there is a separation whether or not a divorce is pending.
Alimony Pendente Lite (APL)
A.P.L. is the temporary alimony / spousal support that is available only if a divorce proceeding is pending (alimony pending litigation). Spousal Support and A.P.L. are usually the same amount of money.
Alimony in Pennsylvania is actually the financial spousal support that commences once the divorce is finalized. It can be for a set period of time or last indefinitely.
The dependent spouse may also be awarded legal fees. In other words, the spouse making more money may have to pay some or all of the legal fees of the dependent spouse. Often the award of legal fees is made at the beginning of the case so that the dependent spouse can afford a lawyer and can be awarded at any support hearing.
We will analyzes income tax returns, health insurance premiums, child care costs, as well mortgage obligations, all to ensure that clients receive what they are entitled to receive or ensure that clients do not pay more than they should.
One legal factor in determining support, APL or alimony (but not spousal support) is “financial entitlement”, which is based on the parties’ income and earning capacity. The other factor is “legal entitlement”, which is related to marital misconduct, such as adultery, desertion, incarceration, cruelty, and indignities which can be used as a defense to the payment of A.P.L. and alimony, but not spousal support.
In Pennsylvania there are 17 factors that are considered when deciding if alimony should be awarded and how much.
1. The relative earnings and earning capabilities of both parties
2. The physical, mental, and emotional condition of the parties
3. The sources of income of both parties, including but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance,o rother benefits
4. The expectancies and inheritances of the parties
5. The duration or length of the marriage
6. The contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party
7. The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child
8. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage
9. The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment
10. The relative assets and liabilities of the parties
11. The property brought to the marriage by either party
12. The contributions of a spouse as homemaker
13. The relative needs of the parties
14. The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct from either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party.
15. The federal, state, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award
16. Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for the other party’s reasonable needs
17. Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment
The duration of the alimony will be determined by the courts. In Pennsylvania, rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to allow a person a specific amount of time to “rehabilitate” themselves. The settlement could be money for a party to go back to school or get back into the work force.
Permanent alimony may be awarded for the rest of a person’s life. Reimbursement alimony may be awarded to a spouse to compensate them for expenses they may have taken responsibility for while the other obtained an education. With the exception of reimbursement alimony, most alimony is terminated when the spouse who receives the alimony moves in with another person in a marriage-like situation, remarries, or dies.
Even after a divorce is finalized, alimony may be modifiable. I continue to represent my clients as their families and their needs change and modification of agreements and orders becomes necessary because of change in income or any financial circumstances.