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What will a court consider when awarding alimony in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2021 | Alimony

Some people in Pennsylvania who have known others who receive alimony or pay alimony after a divorce may walk away with the sense that alimony is a very emotional topic and the subject of many arguments even after the divorce papers are signed. For some high-conflict couples, there is some truth to this sentiment. However, your post-divorce life is what you make of it, and for many that means arriving at a fair and reasonable award of alimony.

What is alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, are payments one spouse makes to the other following a divorce that helps put both spouses on relatively even financial footing. It may be awarded if one spouse earns a lot more than the other, especially if the other spouse did not work while married. The aim of spousal support is to allow each party to enjoy the same standard of living, just as they had while married.

How do courts determine how much alimony to award?

In Pennsylvania alimony can only be awarded if it is necessary. The court will look at a variety of factors to determine whether alimony is necessary and if so, how much should be awarded and for how long,

The court may consider how much each spouse either currently earns or has the potential to earn. The court may also consider what sources of income each spouse can draw from. Whether either spouse is expecting an inheritance may also be considered. The court may also consider whether one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education or increased earning capacity. Each spouse’s education and the time it would take to get the education needed to find a suitable job may also be considered.

The court may also consider how old each spouse is and how long the marriage lasted. Each spouse’s health may also be considered. The effect of child custody on the custodial parent’s financial obligation and earning power may also be considered. The court may also consider what standard of living the spouses enjoyed while married. Each spouse’s properties and debts, including property brought into the marriage by either spouse may be considered. The court may also consider whether a spouse contributed to the marriage as a homemaker. Each spouse’s needs may be considered. Finally, whether one spouse or the other committed an act of marital misconduct, such as adultery, may be considered.

Do you have questions about alimony?

Ultimately, alimony can be an important topic in any divorce especially if a marriage was long-lasting, one spouse had an affair or one spouse earns significantly more than the other. It is important that you understand what alimony is and how courts will arrive at a decision on how much to award. With the right knowledge you can make sure you understand your rights and options in your divorce.


Pennsylvania Bar Association

Allegheny County Bar Association | Raising The Bar on Legal and Community Service | Best Divorce Lawyers in Pittsburgh | 2021