When a couple goes through a divorce, one of the most divisive issues they face is the discussion of alimony or spousal support. In marriages where one spouse has a significantly higher income than another, when a divorce happens, the court may consider granting alimony, though spouses are not always entitled to it. In Pennsylvania there a few types of spousal support. These include spousal support, alimony pendente lite, and the traditional post-divorce alimony. Most forms of spousal support are treated as separate support forms than child support, and they may be considered as income when formulating a child support agreement.
Spousal Support/Alimony Pendente Lite
Spousal support and alimony pendente lite (APL) are two separate forms of spousal support that are seen in Pennsylvania. They are similar in nature, as they are both intended to support a disadvantaged spouse, however, the two are applied differently depending on situation. Both of these orders are normally temporary, and used a majority of the time to get both parties through the divorce.
A spousal support order will be issued when parties have separated, but before the divorce is finalized. This exists to support a spouse who may struggle from the separation while the divorce is being worked out. Spousal support may even be ordered if the divorce has not yet been filed, under certain circumstances.
Alimony Pendente Lite
Alimony Pendente Lite literally translates to "alimony while the action is pending." The "action" in question is the divorce filing. Alimony Pendente Lite may be granted while a divorce case is open, but not finalized. An order for alimony pendente lite cannot be active while a spousal support order is active at the same time.
When most people hear the word "alimony" post-divorce alimony is what comes to mind. After, or at the same time that a divorce is finalized, the court may deem that alimony is necessary. Alimony is financial support paid out after divorce to a disadvantaged spouse, for a period of time deemed necessary by the court. Determining whether alimony will be granted is based on a number of factors, some of which include:
- Length of the marriage
- Spousal income
- Health and mental health of each spouse
- Potential inheritance of each spouse
- Standard of living during marriage
- Spouse's financial needs
- Ability for a spouse to support themselves
- Education and training of both spouses
- Limits on earning capacity due to outside factors, such as a child
These factors and more play a part in the decision making of the court. If alimony is granted the court will also decree how long it will continue for. On top of this, either party can request alimony modifications or or to terminate alimony. Alimony is typically terminated automatically if a spouse remarries, or if either spouse dies, however there may be exceptions depending on the circumstance and what is in the alimony order itself.
If you or a loved one is involved with issues regarding spousal support, or other matters of Family Law, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.