PennsylvaniaAlimony Guide - Spousal Support Laws
Pennsylvania Alimony Guide :: Table of Contents
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered provision of financial support a spouse for after a divorce. Alimony laws vary considerably from state to state, and courts often have significant flexibility on a case-by-case basis in determing whether to award alimony, how much alimony to award, and how long alimony payments will continue.
This is the default dialog which is useful for displaying information. The dialog window can be moved, resized and closed with the 'x' icon.
In the state of Pennsylvania, when a divorce has been decreed, or the process of divorce begins, the court may allow alimony payments to be made. Alimony is only ordered when the court finds it necessary. When deciding the nature, amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony the court will consider many relevant factors.
Relevant factors to an alimony case include anything the court finds to be relevant, but the most commonly considered factors include:
- The relative income and earning abilities of both parties
- The ages and the physical and mental health of both parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The contribution of either party to the other’s educations, training, or increased earning ability
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The education of both parties and the time needed for the party seeking support to gain appropriate training or education for employment
- The property brought to the marriage by both parties
- The monetary needs of both parties
- Any marital misconduct committed by either party during the marriage
- The effect alimony will have on both party’s taxes
- The property of both parties, including property distributed during the divorce
The duration of alimony may be definite or indefinite depending on the circumstances of the specific case. Regardless of the court order duration, unless otherwise specified, upon the remarriage of the spouse receiving support, the alimony payments will cease to be required.
Custody of any children is another factor considered in the amount and requirement of alimony. If the custodian of the child or children is unable to support themselves due to the children being of an age or condition that hinders the individual’s ability to support the child, such as if the spouse must remain home to care for the child, it would severely influence the case for alimony to be received by the custodian of said child or children.
In the end, if an agreement cannot be made between the two parties, alimony is awarded at the final judgment of the judge and court deciding the case.
In the state of Pennsylvania, a number of factors are taken into account when calculating the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support payments.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating alimony?
Pennsylvania has a defined list of factors, described in statutory law, that are legally required to be considered by a judge when determining alimony payments. These factors may be directly connected to the alimony calculation formula.
Is marital fault considered in Pennsylvania alimony?
Pennsylvania considers marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that "at-fault" divorces, which may be caused by infidelity / adultery, abuse, etc, can result in the at-fault party paying more "punitive" alimony.
Is standard of living considered in Pennsylvania alimony?
Standard of living is considered when calculating alimony payments in the state of Pennsylvania. This means that a judge will consider the lifestyle enjoyed by the alimony-receiving spouse during the duration of the marriage when determining an appropriate alimony payment amount.
Is custodial status considered when determining alimony in the state of Pennsylvania?
The judge in the state of Pennsylvania considers custodial status when determining alimony payments. This means that alimony calculations are affected by whether or not the receiving spouse has custody of the children, and custodial spouses may receive higher alimony payments.
How exactly is alimony calculated in the state of Pennsylvania?
Calculation of alimony is generally done on a case-by-case basis by the Pennsylvania family court judge who is responsible for the case. While some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, in most cases the final amount and duration of alimony awarded (if alimony is awarded) is at the discretion of the judge.
- How long must alimony be paid?
- The duration of payments is determined by a judge in Pennsylvania family court. Alimony length is usually based on length of marriage - one commonly used standard for alimony duration is that 1 year of alimony is paid every three years of marriage (however, this is not always the case in every state or with every judge). Alimony may also be discontinued upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In some cases, judges may even award permanent alimony.
- What happens if alimony isn't paid?
- If alimony is unpaid, the owed debt is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected via mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment. Failure to comply with a court-issued spousal support order may also result in a contempt of court charge against the spouse who failed to pay owed alimony.
- Can alimony be waived by a prenuptual agreement?
- A prenup agreement is a contract between spouses regarding marriage-related financial matters signed prior to marriage. Limitation or waiving rights to alimony is a frequent clause in modern prenuptual agreements, but some states or localities prohibit such alimony waivers.
- Can alimony be collected if you're not married?
- The legal concept of alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is dependant upon a legal marriage. However, in some areas - especially those with a concept of common-law marriage - "palimony", or support payments between non-married individuals, has been awarded by courts. However, this generally requires extenuating circumstances.
- What is alimony mediation?
When a marriage ends through divorce and alimony is expected to be paid, spouses have the choice to determine an alimony agreement either through litigation (in Pennsylvania family court) or through mutual agreement. Often, a Pennsylvania alimony mediator can be brought in to help the ex-spouses come to a mutual agreement regarding alimony and other contested issues such as property division, and thus avoid having to go to court.
- How are alimony payments taxed?
On a federal level, all qualifying Pennsylvania alimony payments are deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income by the recipient. To qualify as alimony under IRS guidelines, the following must be true:
- The payments are in cash
- The parties live in seperate households
- The payments are strictly for alimony (as opposed to for child support, etc)
Taxation of alimony varies on a state and local level. You can learn more about Pennsylvania income taxes here .