In divorce matters in Pennsylvania, one of the most contested issues pertains to alimony. Below are some of the most common questions and answers about alimony.
If your case involves consideration of alimony, it is important to speak to an experienced divorce and family law attorney to help you understand your specific circumstance and assist you in negotiating or litigating the most advantageous terms possible.
What is Alimony?
Alimony in Pennsylvania is a court-ordered financial payment that one spouse makes to the other during (called alimony pendente lite, or “APL”) and after a divorce. The amount and duration of post-divorce alimony are based on several factors, including the length of the marriage, the income of both spouses, and the needs of the spouse receiving alimony. Learn more about alimony and spousal support.
Alimony in Pennsylvania
Is Alimony Automatic?
In Pennsylvania, alimony is not automatic. The court will award alimony as a “secondary remedy” if it finds that it is necessary to “maintain the reasonable needs” of the spouse receiving alimony. The court will also consider 17 alimony factors, which try to assess:
· The length of the marriage
· The age, health, and earning capacity of both spouses
· The earning capacity of the spouse receiving alimony
· The needs of any dependent children
· The standard of living during the marriage
· The ability of the spouse paying alimony to afford the payments
How are Alimony Payments Made?
If alimony is awarded, it is typically structured as a monthly payment obligation. However, parties can negotiate or seek an alternative payout structure. In Montgomery, Bucks and Chester County, alimony awards are largely temporary. Temporary alimony is awarded for a specific period.
Can Alimony Be Modified?
Though Alimony Pendente Lite can be modified based on a substantial change in circumstances, post-divorce alimony can only be modified if the order or agreement for such alimony expressly states that the alimony is modifiable. This is an important nuance that should be discussed with an attorney in advance.
Alternatively, alimony can also be “nonmodifiable”, meaning that the amount and duration will remain constant throughout the term of the alimony regardless of the changes in the parties’ financial circumstances.
When Does Alimony End?
Alimony may terminate upon the death of either party, the “cohabitation” of the recipient of alimony with a person of the opposite sex, and the end of the alimony term.
Montgomery County, PA Divorce Lawyer
For over a decade, firm founder Inna Materese has focused exclusively on family and divorce law in Pennsylvania. She is the Secretary of the Montgomery County Bar Association Family Law Section and has presented a variety of Continuing Legal Education courses, including:
— Beyond the W-2: Capturing Compensation (2023)
— Drafting Marital Settlement Agreements (2022)
— “Dysfunctional” Family Law (2021)
— Third Parties in Custody Cases (2020)
— The Math of Divorce (2016)
— Tax Implications in Divorce (2015)
Our Montgomery County divorce law firm accepts clients across the county, including: Ambler, Blue Bell, Collegeville, Fort Washington, Jenkintown, King of Prussia, Lansdale, Oreland, Plymouth Meeting, Willow Grove, as well as the Main Line areas of Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Merion, and Narberth.