Legal issues with alimony
A court may order one spouse to pay “spousal support” to the other spouse after a divorce. This is also referred to as “alimony”. The purpose of alimony is to help the ex-spouse support themselves.
However, the court is not required to order alimony. Many divorces do not result in an order for alimony. Courts generally expect people who are able to work to find a job and support themselves. The laws for alimony are the same for women and men.
When a divorce is contested, the issue of alimony may be litigated in court. Pursuant to Title 23, Section 3701 of the Pennsylvania Code, the following factors are typically considered by the Court.
(a) General rule.–Where a divorce decree has been entered, the court may allow alimony, as it deems reasonable, to either party only if it finds that alimony is necessary.
(b) Factors relevant.–In determining whether alimony is necessary and in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
(1) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
(2) The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
(3) The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
(4) The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
(5) The duration of the marriage.
(6) The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
(7) The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
(8) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
(9) The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.
(10) The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
(11) The property brought to the marriage by either party.
(12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
(13) The relative needs of the parties.
(14) The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct of either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony, except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party. As used in this paragraph, “abuse” shall have the meaning given to it under section 6102 (relating to definitions).
(15) The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
(16) Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 (relating to property rights), to provide for the party’s reasonable needs.
(17) Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.
(c) Duration.–The court in ordering alimony shall determine the duration of the order, which may be for a definite or an indefinite period of time which is reasonable under the circumstances.