Is Alimony Warranted?

Alimony is commonly understood as the payment one spouse may make to the other spouse, specifically for the support of the spouse in need, following a divorce.  You may hear an attorney or the Court referring to two other forms of money paid to a spouse – one being "spousal support," and the other being "alimony pendente lite."

Spousal support, at least in our jurisdiction, is support paid to a spouse while the parties are still married but before a divorce is filed.  A spouse may apply for spousal support if he or she is in need, and the spouse who is not in need or who has a greater income is not sufficiently providing for the other spouse.  Spousal support is determined based on the income of both spouses, along with other factors such as need, expenses, the living situation, children, the ability to work (or lack thereof), health considerations, and other issues, such as infidelity and abandonment.

Alimony Pendente Lite

Alimony pendente lite (APL) is the payment of support from one spouse to the other DURING the divorce litigation.  In other words, after a divorce has been filed but before it is granted.  It is an interim award, and thus, has many more limitations on how it is calculated, when it is considered, and how it is modified.  In general, it is calculated based on need and the guidelines.  In situations where there is also child support, that amount is taken into consideration when the alimony pendent lite is being calculated.

Alimony is the amount paid to a spouse upon the conclusion of the divorce.  Alimony can be granted whether or not there was ever APL or spousal support.  Alimony can be a set amount paid out over a defined period of months or years, and can be modifiable (i.e., can be changed) or non-modifiable (cannot be changed) based on circumstances of the particular case.

Factors Considered In Determining Alimony

When a Court, the judge, the parties, or the attorneys calculate the amount or duration of alimony, any number of factors can be considered.  The law in Pennsylvania does NOT provide a specific chart or rule that tells us exactly how much alimony should be paid and how many years it should go on.  Instead, we have a number of factors we can consider, making every case different.  In general, the Court strives to base the amount of alimony and its duration on the need of the party receiving it.  In cases where the party had been married for a long time and may have children and may not have worked for quite a while, if at all, that need may be greater than that of a party who did not experience those circumstances.  Likewise, the age and the health of the parties may also be big deciding factors.

At the end of the day, there is no guarantee that a spouse will or will not get alimony.  An experienced family law attorney can usually make a fairly accurate prediction as to what the Court may decide in an alimony case.  A lawyer who regularly practices matrimonial or divorce law in the jurisdiction will have experience with the family law judges, the Court, and the ever-changing law and can guide both the paying party and the receiving party in the right direction in settlement or litigation.

Learn More About Alimony

Bethany L. Notaro, Esquire is an experienced alimony and divorce lawyer, handling cases in Pittsburgh (Allegheny County) as well as throughout southwestern Pennsylvania (Westmoreland, Washington, Butler, among others).  Ms. Notaro will be more than happy to consult with you regarding your own unique spousal support, alimony, or APL case, and how she may help.  Spousal support is often difficult to navigate, and running child spousal support or alimony numbers prior to a divorce is an important part of the decision process.  Attorney Bethany L. Notaro and her family law firm are here to explain your many options.  For more information on alimony and divorce, please contact lawyer Bethany L. Notaro at 412-281-1944.