As Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyers, we are frequently asked questions regarding entitlement to alimony. Alimony in Pennsylvania is only available when “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 after an analysis of statutory factors. If after an analysis of the factors, the Court determines that it is necessary to provide the one party with sufficient income to obtain the “necessities of life.” It will award an alimony amount. The purpose of alimony is to attempt to ensure 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 established during the marriage and is only applied as a secondary remedy after the parties have gone through equitable distribution proceedings. The factors to be considered by the court in determining whether to make an alimony award, include: 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 determining 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 must be addressed. 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.
If you have questions about alimony, contact our Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyers today to set up a consultation!