A long-term marriage has unraveled. Both spouses contemplate their financial future and have many legitimate concerns. When a marriage lasting years or decades dissolves, courts commonly award alimony to the spouse in need. Judges do not grant alimony to short-term partners or significant others.
During a divorce proceeding, one spouse may have an immediate financial shortfall. In these situations, a judge often grants “pendente lite” or “interim alimony.” Therefore, the higher-earning spouse provides monthly payments to the other spouse. When the court signs off on the divorce, the pendente lite order expires and any alimony judgement in the divorce decree goes into effect.
In Pennsylvania and most states, the courts award alimony according to a need, not gender or other arbitrary factors. The state provides comprehensive guidelines for a divorce that you should review before initiating a proceeding.
The courts seek to prevent any hardship for a spouse and children. Judges typically do not award alimony if both spouses are similar wage earners. If one spouse earns significantly more than the other, the courts will award the appropriate amount of alimony.
Factors that impact an alimony decision
Many courts evaluate several factors to determine whether to award alimony or not. But judges will primarily assess need. Does one spouse have the capacity to provide financial support? Does the other the spouse have a legitimate financial need for alimony?
- Length of marriage: The spouses must have invested significant time in the marriage. If the marriage lasted less than a year, the court often won’t award alimony.
- Divorce decision: The court evaluates the reasons for the divorce. If one spouse seeks a divorce and other does not, this influences the court.
- Employment prospects: The court determines whether the receiving spouse can obtain employment and earn a wage similar to the higher-earning partner.
Spouses dissolving a marriage often seek a defined set of standards for alimony. Pennsylvania does not have an alimony formula, but instead it has certain guidelines. The courts take a variety of factors into consideration for determining alimony and do not want to see either spouse endure financial hardship.