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  • Writer's pictureSeth Eric Springer, Esq.

How Is Alimony Calculated in PA?

Every aspect of a divorce can be difficult, as the proceedings are usually stressful and emotional moments for both parties. However, no subject is as sensitive as alimony or spousal support payments. Matters become even more complicated because each US state has its own calculation rules.

To avoid any confusion and conflicts, it is important to understand how courts calculate alimony in the state of Pennsylvania. Here’s everything that parties in a divorce need to know, from factors that influence the sum to how long the payments have to last.

Alimony Types in Pennsylvania

Alimony Types in Pennsylvania

There are three types of alimony based on when a spouse requests the payments during the divorce process. Spousal support is a type of pre-divorce payment where one spouse supports the other. For example, if a couple separates and begins living in different homes but is yet to file for divorce, one party can request the other to support them financially.

Once one person files for divorce, the payment is called alimony pendente lite. In essence, it is the same as spousal support, but it has to bear a different name as the circumstances surrounding the separation change.

Finally, post-divorce payments are known as alimony. Judges determine these payments differently from the first two, and these payments begin as soon as the divorce is finalized.

Regardless of the alimony type, the higher-earning spouse is commonly the one who pays it. Thus, a court has to have access to the spouses’ earnings and financial records in order to determine who needs to pay.

Finally, it is important to mention that alimony is always separate from child support. Courts calculate alimony first and then make decisions regarding the support of children that are still minors.

Calculating Pre-Divorce Alimony in PA

After the court determines that one spouse is financially dependent on the other, the judge must calculate how much spousal support to grant. They calculate the sum using the state’s required alimony guidelines.

When the judge enters the two incomes into the alimony calculator, they get a number that they suggest to the spouses. If the sum is not enough to financially support the lower-earning party, the judge may grant a deviation from the primary calculation.

As soon as the judge decides on a final number, the paying spouse must begin supporting the other party and do so until they sign the last divorce papers.

Calculating Post-Divorce Alimony in PA

Matters are slightly more complex when it comes to post-divorce alimony. Namely, there is no calculator that judges can use to determine the sum. Instead, they consider a variety of factors and make a decision accordingly.

These factors include:

● How much each spouse earns

● Each spouse’s physical and mental state

● Certain expectancies and inheritances the spouses are due

● The duration of the marriage

● Whether one spouse has helped the other get an education or has contributed to their

earning power in any other manner

● Each spouse’s assets and liabilities

● Which properties the parties brought into the marriage

● Any taxes that come with alimony payments

● Whether the supported spouse has the ability to find employment later on

Though this list might appear exhaustive, judges can consider a wide range of factors to decide on post-divorce alimony. As long as they deem the factors relevant in that particular case, they can use anything.

In certain instances, spouses may agree on alimony terms prior to meeting a judge. If that is the case, the judge has an obligation to accept those terms. They can only reject the terms if they consider them unfair to one of the parties.

How Long Do Alimony Payments Last?

Courts usually assume that both spouses will become fully financially independent at some point after the divorce. However, they also recognize that complete independence is not possible for everyone right away.

In most cases, judges set a specific date for the termination of alimony payments. For example, this date might be the supported spouse’s graduation day or the date when they finish an apprenticeship. Alternatively, the judge might just set a random date until which the spouse is to find work.

Although alimony is seldom indefinite, such instances do exist. If a judge determines that the supported spouse won’t be able to find work or any other source of income, the supporting spouse will have to pay alimony until either one of them dies. This situation is common if one party is disabled, chronically ill, or has medical conditions that prevent them from earning a salary.

For more questions regarding alimony and other marital affairs, such as whether or not separate bank accounts are considered marital property, contact the best divorce lawyers in York today.

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