Alimony in PA: The Definitive Answers on the 5 Most Asked Questions

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Alimony in PA: The Definitive Answers on the 5 Most Asked Questions

 

After receiving so many questions about alimony from my clients, or prospective clients who either call me or visit our website, I felt the need to clear the air on much confusion that appears to exist regarding a spouse's entitlement to alimony in Pennsylvania.Alimony in PA - Definitive Answers to Top 5 Questions

Alimony is a post-divorce payment that one ex-spouse makes to the other, and is supposed to be based on true financial need by the receiving party going forward. Post-divorce alimony is not to be confused with spousal support or alimony pendente lite which a spouse may be entitled to on a limited basis pending the outcome of their divorce case, and is based on a formula calculation in the
PA support guidelines.

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There is no entitlement to alimony in Pennsylvania. Instead, it is purely discretionary with the court, and based on 17 distinct factors listed in Section 3701 of the PA Divorce Code.  So a spouse who seeks alimony must specifically ask for it in court, or negotiate it with their spouse through the mediation process, which is always recommended first, if possible. 

The 5 most common questions I typically get from clients about alimony are:

1) How long do you have to be married to receive alimony in PA?

Length of the marriage, albeit an important factor in the alimony statute, is but one of the 17 factors to be considered by the court. Typically, the longer the marriage, the greater the case for alimony, assuming other relevant factors also exist. However, there is no minimum length of time that a spouse has to be married in order for alimony to apply.

2) How much is the typical alimony payment in PA?

There is really no way to predict what the alimony payment will be (or if there will even be an alimony payment to begin with) when spouses decide to obtain their own attorneys and litigate the issue in court. There are too many variables at play and the issue effectively becomes a roll of the dice. Much will depend on the type of case that is presented by the attorneys on either side or the particular mood of the judge or divorce master. Too often, the real purpose behind alimony gets lost when spouses decide to litigate in court because the focus is on winning and losing. When spouses mediate alimony, they have the opportunity to together decide whether alimony will apply, and if so, what is a fair amount to pay and for how long, in accordance with their budgets and what they need and can reasonably afford.

3) How long do I have to pay alimony in PA?

Again, there is no set time period for paying alimony in PA as it is purely discretionary. To be sure, if an alimony payment is going to apply, spouses should carefully evaluate their particular circumstances, what the recipient's future financial needs will be and also what the payor's ability to pay is.

For example, a common type of alimony in PA is called "rehabilitative alimony" where one spouse may only need a few years of financial assistance after the divorce to get back on their feet financially, clear their existing debt or perhaps re-train themselves for a new career in a different field. If such a need is recognized, then the alimony payment should only last for a limited period of time (and no more) in order to satisfy this purpose.

4) Am I entitled to one year of alimony for every three years of marriage?

This is often a common misconception by those who are navigating the murky waters of alimony in a PA divorce. In many PA county courts, there is an unspoken rule of thumb, not a law, that a recipient should receive one year of alimony for every three years of marriage. However, I always tell my clients that this is not a slam dunk for an alimony claim. First, the court must determine that the matter is appropriate for alimony. Then, the 1 to 3 year alimony presumption is merely a starting point for negotiation and argument before the court or divorce master. From there, the ultimate determination could either be more or less than this presumption.

5) Is there a formula that applies to calculate post-divorce alimony in PA?

There is no formula to calculate post-divorce alimony in PA. Again, it is a purely discretionary issue with the court. By contrast, when spouses decide to mediate their divorce, they themselves have the opportunity to control what alimony, if any, will apply. This is achieved most fairly when they each prepare their post-divorce budget of expenses so that they can evaluate what is needed for the receipient in order to reasonably live in their separate household and what the payor can afford

These questions only scratch the surface on the applicability of alimony to a PA divorce. Please visit us on the web at www.myhealthydivorce.com to learn more or call us at (610) 764-7144 to schedule a free consult to have all your questions answered.

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Comments

Can no co-habitating be a requirement for receiving alimony?
Posted @ Monday, June 03, 2013 8:56 AM by Dottie Brown
Dottie, I'm not sure I understand your question. What do you mean by "no co-habitating" in relation to alimony?
Posted @ Monday, June 03, 2013 9:01 AM by Cris Pastore
Married for eleven yrs. Husband cheated, lost three wedding rings, claims he's working on weekends. I'm college student going for my associates degree and work only part time. He pays all the bills, and with a divorce I will not be able to stay in our home we have a three bedroom house and our children are grown, so It's usually me home alone. Should I file before it's too late.
Posted @ Thursday, June 27, 2013 8:05 AM by Scared
That last comment response should be sent to laydybug@verizon.net not .com
Posted @ Thursday, June 27, 2013 8:11 AM by Scared
Married almost 39 years. I don't love my husband, he has spent all our 401k money, so I really have nothing to loose. We co-own a remodeling business, I am president, would I be able to get income from money earned from the business i own it 51% to his 49%. My income is low, and I am looking for a new job. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
Posted @ Thursday, July 25, 2013 5:22 PM by Diane Anderson
I am nearing the end of my post-divorce alimony. I understand that the divorce decree is recorded at the county courthouse. Are there legal steps I must take at the end of this obligation to document that the terms have been satisfied?
Posted @ Wednesday, July 31, 2013 8:57 PM by John Blessing
Im living in Jamaica my husband lives in Penslavania we are married for 21yrs is it possible to get alimony
Posted @ Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:33 AM by vivienne ximines
Vivienne, the answer depends on which jurisdiction applies. If this is a PA divorce, as you see in this article above, alimony is entirely discretionary with the court. Therefore, alimony is something that a spouse must specifically ask for in a divorce, and a court will either award it or not, based on the 17 factors it can consider in the PA alimony statute. If this is a Jamaican divorce, I have no idea about alimony as I am not familiar with the divorce laws there.
Posted @ Wednesday, November 20, 2013 11:50 AM by Cris Pastore
"Married" for 14 months, seperated after only 4 months after I found out he cheated before we even got married that I did not know about until after we were married or I would have never married him. I have worked and so has he. Is there any chance of alimony? I make a little bit more than he does.
Posted @ Thursday, November 21, 2013 12:52 PM by confused
I was ordered to pay my ex-wife a considerable amount of money because of my job. However; months after I was paying the money I started to have trouble with my vision end result with me loosing my job. I am now unable to pay the significant amount of money needed and have been in an out of jail because of lack of payment. I am looking for a possible way to prevent me from going to jail because of the money I am unable to come up with.
Posted @ Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:17 PM by Phil
The term alimony comes from the Latin word alimōnia ("nourishment, sustenance", from alere, "to nourish"), from which also alimentary (of, or relating to food, nutrition, or digestion) and the Scots law concept of aliment,
Posted @ Monday, February 10, 2014 8:01 PM by sandeep
I was married in 2000 I had a $45,000 a year job due to a political situation I lost the job.My husband did not have custody of his children I helped him get custody and he ask me to stay at home and be a stay at home Mom. In 2008 he abandoned me.I was ill and he left me on the living room floor unconscious.My son found me and took me to the hospital.My husband left with the youngest who hated me,I am on disability and receive no money from him.Can I get alimony since I have lived in 56 different places since he left I have no money and he will not help me,We went to a counselor who told him it was ok if he didn't want to be married.I have suffered and if I could I would divorce him. Can I get alimony so I can at least eat.
Posted @ Monday, March 17, 2014 2:15 PM by sandra weiss
wife filed for divorce. our house is paid in full iam paying her alomony 30.53 a wk an i pay her car ins. an health car at my work still about 50.00 every wk she moved out in sept of 2013 filed for divorce on dec 2013 is it best for me to buy her out
Posted @ Sunday, April 13, 2014 12:29 AM by ted thomas
Life is like a long journey on a train, someone gets on the train while someone gets off the train everyday. Why don’t we try to enjoy the journey happily without any pressure? Let's choose some stuff cool for our journey... 
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Posted @ Tuesday, July 22, 2014 9:51 PM by xiaoming1hao
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