SPOUSAL SUPPORT AND APL
Spousal support is financial assistance paid by a spouse in recognition of the recipient spouse’s contribution to the marriage. The purpose of spousal support is to help the recipient spouse achieve financial independence. In Pennsylvania there are three categories of spousal support: 1) APL, 2) spousal support and 3) Alimony.
ALIMONY PENDENTE LITE (APL)
In some cases, the court may allow a spouse to receive reasonable Alimony Pendente Lite (commonly referred to as “APL”). APL is an order for temporary support granted to a spouse during the pendency of a divorce or annulment proceeding. The main purpose of APL is to provide the spouse who has more limited financial resources with financial support from the other spouse, in order to complete a successful divorce.
To determine the amount of APL, the court will use a specific formula established by Pennsylvania law. The court will subtract the recipient spouse’s monthly net income from the payer spouse’s monthly net income. The recipient spouse is then entitled to 40% of the difference. When children are involved, the formula requires that the court must first establish an amount of child support payable to the recipient spouse. That amount is then subtracted from the difference of the monthly net incomes and then the recipient spouse is entitled to 30% of remaining difference. Child care expenses, health insurance, and health care costs will also be taken into consideration as well as the custody arrangement.
APL lasts for the duration of the divorce proceedings. After the divorce is final, APL is often automatically terminated unless it will convert into regular alimony.
Spousal support is care, maintenance and financial assistance. Since Pennsylvania law requires that married persons provide for one another based on their abilities to provide support, a recipient spouse may be entitled to spousal support when the parties are married, but separated. The calculation of spousal support is the same as the calculation for APL. There is no requirement of a pending divorce action in order for a spouse to make a claim for support; however, the payer spouse may have entitlement defenses to a support claim.
Pennsylvania law establishes fault based divorce grounds. They are willful and malicious desertion, adultery, cruel treatment, bigamy, imprisonment of a two year term or more, and behavior that render’s a spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome. A defense to any spousal support claim is that the recipient spouse is not entitled to spousal support because he or she committed an act that would be grounds for divorce. In other words, if a spouse is cheating on his or her spouse and the cheating spouse moves out of the house and makes a claim for support, the other spouse can defend against that claim by arguing that the cheating spouse is not entitled to support. If the cheating spouse files for divorce, he or she can make a claim for APL and the other spouse can no longer use the entitlement defense. In no event will a recipient spouse receive both APL and spousal support at the same time.
A spouse is entitled to alimony only after a divorce decree has been entered. In determining alimony, Section 3701 of the PA Divorce Code establishes enumerated factors that the Court must consider when awarding alimony to an ex-spouse.
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The formula to determine APL or spousal support presumes that the amount arrived at after the calculation is reasonable under the circumstances. However, a spouse can request more support if the spouse can show that a deviation from the formula is warranted. For example, if a spouse can prove that he or she has unusual needs or extraordinary expenses (e.g. healthcare expenses), then that spouse may be entitled to higher amount.
CAN SPOUSAL SUPPORT BE CHANGED?
Yes. The amount can be changed if the circumstances of the parties change. Also, spousal support and APL will automatically end when the marriage is terminated.
Contact The Martin Law Firm today to discuss your rights to APL, spousal support or alimony. You can call us at 215-687-4053.