The Basics Of Alimony In Pennsylvania

Many of our divorce clients come into our office concerned about possible alimony payments. If they are the higher-earning spouse, they might be concerned about how much they will owe their ex-spouse every month. If they are the lower earning spouse, they would be concerned about how much support (alimony and child support, if applicable) to which they would be entitled to allow them to make ends meet each month.

In Pennsylvania, alimony is purely discretionary. It is intended to be a limited solution to give a financially dependent spouse the opportunity to meet their reasonable financial needs when equitable distribution and child support fall short. There are three major types of alimony in Pennsylvania, “rehabilitative,” “permanent,” and “reimbursement.” Rehabilitative alimony means that the alimony is provided for the purpose of allowing the spouse to go back to gains those skills or education that they may need to re-enter the work force. Permanent alimony, which is only rarely awarded, provides alimony until the death, remarriage, or cohabitation of the ex-spouse. Reimbursement alimony is intended to reimburse a financially dependent spouse for their contributions to the higher income spouse’s educational and employment pursuits. This will also usually end if the above-mentioned conditions are fulfilled.

Permanent alimony is awarded by the Court only in rare cases, usually resulting from long-term marriages, or involving people who would find it very difficult to re-enter the workforce. Courts prefer to bridge the gap between the parties using equitable distribution of marital assets to effectuate a financial break between the parties.

The Court will utilize the following factors in determining how much the alimony award would be and how long alimony will be paid, if the spouse is eligible for it:

(1)the financial resources of the spouse seeking alimony, including both separate and community property and liabilities;
(2)the spouse’s ability to meet his or her needs independently;
(3)the education and employment skills of the spouses;
(4)the time necessary for the supported spouse to acquire sufficient training or education to enable him or her to find employment;
(5)the availability and feasibility of that training;
(6)the duration of the marriage;
(7)the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking alimony;
(8)the ability of the supporting spouse to meet their own needs and make any child support payments;
(9)excessive or abnormal expenditures, concealment or destruction of any property by either spouse;
(10)the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits, and any separate property;
(11)the contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(12)the contribution of either spouse as homemaker;
(13)any marital misconduct of the spouse seeking alimony;
(14)whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs;
(15)the efforts of the spouse seeking alimony to obtain self-support skills while the divorce is pending or during any separation; and
(16)property brought to the marriage by either spouse.
(17)any tax ramifications;

For a financially dependent spouse, alimony is an important consideration when going through the divorce process. Contact our experienced Beaver County spousal support attorneys today to discuss your unique case!

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