To be sure, most legal aspects of divorce are confusing and unpleasant to those going through them. But unlike the issue of property distribution, where a couple splits their property amongst each other through the process of equitable distribution, the payment of alimony can feel strange, unfamiliar, and even unjust when one of the spouses is asked by another spouse to provide them with monthly payments after the marriage has ended (and regardless of who wanted the divorce), when all of the property that was accumulated during the marriage has already been divided.
Make no mistake, however: alimony is frequently awarded in Pennsylvania divorces over the objections of the paying spouse who may not think it is necessary. And although “necessity” is a threshold for awarding alimony in Pennsylvania, what you as the paying spouse thinks is necessary and what the court thinks is necessary may be two very different things.
Factors Affecting the Duration and Amount of Alimony in Pennsylvania
If you are looking for an online calculator which involves you entering your salary and spouse’s salary into a formula which spits out an exact amount of alimony that you will be expected to pay (and for how long), you can stop looking in vain.
Pennsylvania courts do not use strict formulas for calculating alimony payments and duration, but instead, judges are given discretion in not only determining whether alimony should be paid at all but in how much should be paid and for how long.
That said, PA state law does provide factors that a judge can consider in determining alimony, and both spouses’ attorneys can present arguments to the court regarding alimony based on these factors, which include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The relative earnings of each party
- The earning capacity of each party (how much each spouse could be earning)
- The contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
- The age, physical, and mental conditions of each party
- All sources of income of each party
- The relative assets and liabilities of each party
- The relative needs of the parties
- The marital misconduct of the parties during the marriage
- Whether the party seeking alimony is capable of self-support through employment
- The contributions of one spouse as a homemaker in the marriage
Reaching a Favorable Settlement on Alimony in Pennsylvania
It is not necessary, however, for the spouses to argue all of the above factors before a judge, as the divorcing spouses are free to reach their own agreement as they see fit on the issue of alimony. Many divorcing spouses choose to reach a settlement agreement on alimony (as well as on property distribution, child custody, and any other issues in the divorce) outside of a court and then submit that agreement to the court for approval without argument.
An attorney can facilitate this process of reaching a settlement by reaching out to the other party (or attorney, if represented) to negotiate alimony payments, and can also create the settlement agreement and take all necessary steps to submit it to the Pennsylvania court overseeing the divorce to reach a mutually beneficial termination of the marriage without delay.
Get Help With Your PA Family Law Matter Today
At The Martin Law Firm, P.C., our family law team works with men and women across Southeastern Pennsylvania in family law matters – including property distribution, alimony, child custody, and visitation – and we are committed to serving your needs in a compassionate and efficient manner. Call us today for a no-hassle consultation regarding any questions you have about divorce in Pennsylvania.