Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Pittsburgh divorce expectations may not match reality, Part I

Most divorces have negative consequences, emotionally and financially. For the majority of people contemplating divorce, these costs are to be expected. What makes divorce even worse for many people is that the courts do not look at the facts of the marriage and the divorce in the same way that the divorcing spouses do. In other words, the reality of the situation does not match what the court seems to see and what the court decides to do.

A case in point is alimony. This payment, also known as spousal support, is frequently a matter of great contention between divorcing spouses. People involved in a divorce rarely agree on whether alimony is warranted, how much it should be and how long it should last. The complicating factor is that the reasons the divorcing spouses hold these opinions are not generally given much weight by judges.

As an example, a husband may believe that he should not have to pay alimony if his wife left him for another man. Since leaving the marriage was her choice, and she has another partner, why should the soon-to-be ex-husband have to support her? There is a logic to this belief, but it is not the primary factor examined by a judge. Pittsburgh divorce attorneys frequently warn their clients that the judge will be looking at economic factors in deciding whether alimony is justified. If a property division cannot put a spouse in a position to be economically self-sufficient, the judge will look at that spouse's needs and the other spouse's ability to pay support.

Marital conduct is a factor that the judge is allowed to consider, but the reality is that it is probably the least influential factor that the judge might examine. This often contrasts sharply with the divorcing spouses' feelings about the justice of past conduct versus future support.

In the next post we will look at some more support issues that frequently involve a disconnect between expectations and what courts typically do.

Source: Huffington Post "5 Support Arguments That Don't Matter in Divorce Court" Oct. 20, 2011

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