Understanding Alimony


It’s a common misconception for many divorcing couples that receiving alimony is an automatic result of finalizing their divorce proceedings. On the contrary, it is only awarded when one spouse specifically asks for it in court or settles it in previous discussions with their attorney and the other divorcing party. Here some of our best answers to frequently asked questions about alimony, as well as some factors that are considered by judges when awarding alimony at all.

Length of Marriage: While this is considered by the court in awarding alimony, the length for marriage is only one part of the many factors that come into play when determining alimony. While longer marriages will generally result in a greater case for receiving alimony, there is no minimum amount of time for the marriage to have lasted to be eligible for alimony benefits.

Typical Payments: There is no certain way to determine how much alimony a partner may be able to secure, other than by going through the court proceedings as designed.  Cases of alimony should not be looked at as winning or losing, but rather determining the fair amount owed to both parties based on multiple marriage factors.

Length of Alimony: As above, there is no set or maximum period for alimony payments in PA, and this will be determined by the court. One common type of alimony in PA is known as “rehabilitative alimony”, which is only in place for a few years and allows one partner to get back on their feet after the divorce, or possibly after a marriage in which they were not employed or earning their own money. Once they have regained financial independence, the alimony payments will logically stop.

Factors of Alimony: In awarding alimony, a judge takes into consideration many possible factors in ensuring a fair settlement for both parties. Among many other points, some of the most commonly considered factors include the duration of the marriage, relative earning capacity of both partners, any expected future earnings, future child-rearing arrangements, the standard of living, relative needs of each spouse, and the extent to which a spouse contributed to the others’ education or future earning potential.

In addition, the court will also take into account the physical and mental states of the spouses, as well as the marital misconduct that may have led to the divorce, including abuse cases. While many parts of these considerations have to do with the way things were during the ending marriage, they also seriously consider the future potential of the spouse who is requesting alimony, and his or her difficulty or ability to properly provide for themselves in the future. It is notable that gender is not taken into account in cases of awarding alimony though roles that the divorcing spouses may have held as homemaker and breadwinner are certainly considered.

If you are filing for a divorce and either looking to seek alimony or are worried about making hefty alimony payments, we will work with you through the process and ensure you get a fair solution to your case. Call us at Smith & Horwitz today at (215) 515-8464 for a free phone consultation today.

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