Is There Alimony in Pennsylvania?

There are three types of support available to the dependent spouse: spousal support, alimony pendente lite and alimony.  Spousal support and alimony pendente lite are forms of support which can be awarded to a dependent spouse after the parties’ separate but prior to the entry of a decree in divorce.  Alimony is awarded to a dependent spouse only after the decree in divorce is entered.

A spouse can only receive one type of support at a time.  Spousal support and alimony pendente lite are calculated the same way.  The differences between the two are 1) fault is a defense to the award of spousal support while fault is not a defense to the award of alimony pendente lite and 2) alimony pendente lite can only be awarded if a divorce complaint is filed with the court, while no divorce complaint needs to be filed to obtain an award of spousal support.  Fault is generally defined as a spouse who has an extra-marital affair prior to the parties’ separation.

The formula for calculating alimony pendente lite and spousal support is as follows: (Obligor’s income) less (obligee’s income) less (any child support obligation of obligor) multiplied by 30% of the difference (if there are minor children) or 40% (if there are no minor children.)

Alimony is awarded based upon the consideration of 17 factors, which factors generally focus on the length of the marriage, the relative earnings and assets of each party and whether or not the dependent spouse has custody of the parties’ children.  There is no specific formula for the calculation of alimony.  Instead, the amount of alimony is based upon the reasonable needs and expenses of the dependent spouse.

By: Julie Auerbach