Pennsylvania Alimony is awarded based on set list of factors as defined in Pennsylvania law. Alimony in PA is a "secondary remedy" and is available only where economic justice and the reasonable needs of the parties cannot be achieved by way of equitable distribution, or the division of marital assets and debts. An Alimony award is determined by whether it is necessary to provide the receiving party (or the party in need) with sufficient income to obtain the "necessities of life." The purpose of alimony is not to punish one spouse and award the other, but rather to make sure that a spouse who is unable to support himself/herself are provided with reasonable needs.
Reasonable needs for purposes of assessing an alimony award are determined by the lifestyle and standard of living during the marriage. The person who is ordered to pay alimony also must have the ability to pay that amount. It is important to note that a claim for alimony in Pennsylvania must be raised prior to the entry of the final divorce decree, or else that alimony claim is waived. It is also important to note that in a PA divorce case, alimony is to be used a secondary remedy to be considered after the parties have gone through the equitable distribution process.
Pennsylvania law defines factors to be considered for making an alimony award assessment, including: the length of the marriage, the relative earning capacities of the parties, the ages and physical and mental health of the parties, receipt of inheritance money, the parties' standard of living during marriage, and the relative educational level of the spouses, among other factors.
One of the most highly contested factors in assessing alimony is marital misconduct, which may be considered in fashioning an alimony award. This has to be misconduct that occurred during the marriage however, and does not include misconduct that occurred post-separation.
The tax consequences of alimony also have to be considered. The alimony award must be done in a way so as to comply with IRS regulations and the Internal Revenue Code if it is intended to be tax deductible for the paying party and taxable income to the party receiving the alimony award. Because of tax consequences and tax considerations, an award that may "seem" like alimony might not actually be alimony. This has to be done with caution, as the court can construe a periodic payment as not being alimony, in which case it would not terminate upon the remarriage of the party receiving it.
Questions about alimony? Contact us today and schedule a consultation to speak with our Pittsburgh Alimony Attorneys!