What is alimony?

In Pennsylvania, alimony is a payment to an ex-spouse after a divorce. In some cases, a spouse may need financial assistance starting over after a divorce and alimony can help that spouse with the transition.

MYTH: I am entitled to alimony.

NO! You are not entitled to alimony in Pennsylvania. You must ask a judge for an alimony award or use the mediation process to decide if alimony is applicable.

MYTH: I get 1 year of alimony for every 3 years of marriage.

NO! Alimony in Pennsylvania is based on 17 factors listed in the divorce code:

Alimony Factors in Pennsylvania 

  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.
  15. The federal, state, and local tax consequences of the alimony.
  16. Whether the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, to provide for their reasonable needs.
  17. Whether the spouse seeking alimony is incapable of supporting themselves.

Section 3701: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/23/00.037.001.000..HTM

MYTH: Alimony in Pennsylvania is for life.

NO! Lifelong alimony or “permanent” alimony is rare. In most cases alimony is temporary or “rehabilitative”, lasting for a few months or more. Temporary alimony helps a spouse get back on their feet after a divorce.

MYTH: I deserve alimony to maintain my standard of living during the marriage.

NO! Alimony in Pennsylvania is not meant to equalize incomes or enjoy the same standard of living. In most cases, both spouses must alter their lifestyles because there is simply not enough money to maintain two households on the same income post-divorce.

MYTH: If I quit my job or refuse to work full time I can get alimony.

NO! A voluntary reduction in earnings, or intentional under-employment will backfire. Both spouses are expected to support themselves after divorce and will not receive more alimony, especially if they are voluntarily under-employed.

MYTH: An online calculator is used to determine alimony.

NO! The BEST way to determine an alimony amount is by using a realistic budget. Completing a budget worksheet helps both spouses understand the relative needs of the other.

TRUTH: Mediation can help!

One of the best ways to work out the terms of your divorce or separation is by using a mediator. Your mediator will help you look at your future goals and finances so that both spouses can move forward in a positive direction. When both parties have input in the mediated responsibilities, your family will thrive!

Questions?

Contact family law mediator, Dawn Clement at https://clementmediation.com/schedule-a-consultation/ to schedule a free online consultation.