One of the most prevalent questions I am asked when couples are alimony is whether or not alimony is granted in Pennsylvania. Inevitably, the client says, "my friend told me that there is no alimony in Pennsylvania". Well, the friend is wrong. In fact, in Pennsylvania there are two types of alimony - Alimony Pendente Lite and post Divorce Alimony.
Alimony Pendente Lite (APL), or alimony "pending litigation", is a form of spousal support that is payable while the divorce is pending. The purpose of APL is to provide the dependant spouse with income to prosecute and defend the action. APL is temporary in nature in that it terminates upon the granting of the divorce decree. APL is available irrespective of marital fault.
The Pennsylvania Divorce also authorizes post divorce alimony if the party seeking the award lacks sufficient funds and property to meet his or her needs and is unable to be self-supporting through employment or other means. The statute states that the purpose of alimony is to effect economic justice; however, the statute also states that alimony is a secondary remedy that should only be awarded if "economic justice" can not be achieved through the equitable distribution process.
In determining whether to grant alimony and how much, the Courts look at seventeen factors:
(1) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
(2) The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
(3) The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
(4) The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
(5) The duration of the marriage.
(6) The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
(7) The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
(8) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
(9) The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.
(10) The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
(11) The property brought to the marriage by either party.
(12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
(13) The relative needs of the parties.
(14) The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct of either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party.
(15) The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
(16) Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 (relating to property rights), to provide for the party's reasonable needs.
(17) Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.
After determining whether or not alimony is reasonable and necessary, the Court will determine the amount and duration.