Seventeen factors are listed in Pennsylvania law affecting whether or not a party can get – or will have to pay – alimony, but before we get to those, you should know that, yes, we do have alimony here (and have since 1980) and, thanks to the Pennsylvania Equal Rights Amendment, either spouse could be responsible to pay or receive it. Also, distinguish between alimony, which is money paid by one ex-spouse to another after they are divorced, and spousal support, which is money one spouse pays to another while they are still married. Finally, alimony is never automatic. It must be either agreed upon (uncontested) or fought for in court (contested).
1. Does one party make significantly more income than the other? If your two incomes are sort of close, alimony may not be likely.
2. How long have you been married? The shorter the marriage (which is unlikely to count the time you were married but living apart), the less alimony.
3. The court may consider the the parties’ ages, and physical, mental and emotional stages in contested alimony cases.
4. Sources of income may be considered, such as medical, retirement, insurance and other types of benefits.
5. The future earnings and inheritances of the parties could play a part.
6. Did one of you make it possible for the other to have an increased earning potential by education or training?
7. If, after the divorce, one of you will be more financially affected because you have to take care of a minor child, alimony could come into play.
8. Some consideration may be given to the standard of living during the marriage.
9. The current educational level and/or professional qualifications of the parties and how long it might take the party who is less qualified to acquire training and/or education to enable the party to find a job.
10. What are each party’s assets and liabilities?
11. Some consideration could be given to the value of the things that each party brought into the marriage.
12. Credit would be given to the degree a party contributed to the marriage as a homemaker.
13. Consideration would be given to the needs of each party…but not their wants or desires.
14. Adulterous, abusive (physical mainly) or other very unacceptable behavior can affect alimony. This would chiefly be bad behavior occurring during the marriage and before separation and filing for divorce.
15. All tax consequences of paying or receiving alimony may be considered, although any agreements for alimony entered into after Dec 31, 2018 would carry no deductions for paid alimony nor would received alimony be taxable.
16. Considered also would be if the party seeking alimony otherwise has sufficient means, income and/or property to provide for that party’s reasonable needs.
17. Finally, if one is able to support themselves without alimony, one might be expected to do so.
That’s quite a lot of ideas to consider, especially when you know that each of the 17 factors can influence others. In a nutshell, alimony is best described as needed to get an ex-spouse back up on his or her feet within a reasonable time after the divorce. It is not a gift or “mad money” so to speak. It is designed to fill a need and the party expecting it would be expected to do whatever would be necessary to support oneself as soon as possible.
Can I Get Alimony in Pennsylvania? Will I Have To Pay Alimony in Pennsylvania?
Alimony is never automatic, so if you want to be divorced AND receive alimony which your spouse is not willing to pay, you have to file an extremely expensive contested divorce. The Court has 17 factors it applies in determining whether you will receive alimony under Pennsylvania law.