Alimony is a payment that one spouse makes to another after a final divorce decree is granted. In Pennsylvania, an award of alimony is not automatically granted. The court has discretion in granting alimony and determining what the proper amount of alimony should be.
There are seventeen factors that the Pennsylvania courts must take consider when deciding on the issue of alimony. These factors include the earning capacity of the parties, the length of the marriage, any marital misconduct by either party, the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker, etc. As the multiple factors can impact each varying case differently, predicting an alimony amount before the court has a chance to hear the case can be quite difficult.
When a person is able to prove that there has been a substantial and continuing change of circumstances, they may be entitled to a modification or termination of alimony. An example in a substantial and continuing change in circumstances could be involuntary job loss and inability to obtain work, an injury preventing a person from returning to work in the same capacity indefinitely, as well as many other reasonable grounds for a modification. Alimony is also terminated if the receiving person remarries.
Recently the Pennsylvania Superior Court considered a case in which the lower court denied a request to modify an alimony obligation. The Superior Court in McKernan v. McKernan considered a case where a party paying alimony requested the court attribute available income to the receiving party based on income available to her through social security benefits to which she was entitle, but not receiving. The Court determined that the receiving party cannot be assessed “retirement income capacity” based on her eligibility for Social Security Benefits.
If you have a question about alimony and your potential eligibility, or need to speak with an experienced attorney who can assist you in modifying your current alimony payment in Pennsylvania, contact our Pittsburgh office today!