The following factors will be considered by the Master or Judge in determining alimony:
- 1. The relative earnings of both spouses.
- 2. The duration of the marriage.
- 3. The ages and physical, mental and emotional states of the two spouses.
- 4. The sources of income of both spouses. This includes medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
- 5. The expected future earnings and inheritances of the two spouses.
- 6. The degree to which one spouse has contributed to the other spouse’s education, training or increased earning potential.
- 7. The degree to which a spouse will be financially affected by their position as the custodian of a minor child.
- 8. The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage.
- 9. The relative education of the parties. This also considers the amount of time it would take for the spouse seeking alimony to acquire the education or training necessary to find employment.
- 10. The relative assets and liabilities of the two spouses.
- 11. The property each spouse brought to the marriage.
- 12. The degree a spouse contributed as a homemaker.
- 13. The relative needs of the two spouses.
- 14. The marital misconduct of either of the spouses during the marriage. “Abuse” as in this context shall have the meaning given to it under Section 6102.
- 15. The federal, state and local tax consequences of the alimony.
- 16. Whether the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including items in Chapter 35 relating to property rights, to provide for their reasonable needs.
- 17. Whether the spouse seeking alimony is incapable of supporting themselves through appropriate employment.
My clients often ask the following questions regarding alimony:
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 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 retrain 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.
3) 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.
4) 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 recipient in order to reasonably live in their separate household and what the payor can afford.
If you have a question about alimony please call Gregory J. Spadea at 610-521-0604 of Law Offices of Spadea & Associates, LLC.