Going through a divorce can be one of the most challenging events in a person’s life. Spousal support is one of many legal issues involved in the divorce process. If you are going through a divorce, you are probably concerned about your financial stability and future after the divorce. Working with an attorney is important whether you want to pursue spousal support or are concerned about being required to pay too much for the support.
The Pittsburgh divorce attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace understand that spousal support can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. When you work with us, we will guide you through the process, negotiating an agreement between you and your spouse that protects your interest and allows you to move on with your life. Contact Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how you can maintain your financial integrity.
Spousal Support in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, spousal support, often referred to as alimony, is a monthly payment from one spouse to another. Generally, the spouse with higher earnings will be required to pay the other spouse with fewer assets and earnings monthly child support.
The longer marriage lasts, the more likely one spouse would be required to pay spousal support. The purpose is to help the receiving spouse financially until they can move on with their life and become financially independent. Pennsylvania has three types of spousal support: rehabilitative, permanent, and lump-sum.
Rehabilitative Spousal Support
Rehabilitative spousal support is intended to help the spouse with less income obtain the job skills or education needed for gainful employment. Courts often award rehabilitative spousal support when one spouse is a stay-at-home parent while the other spouse works. The working spouse may be required to make payments until the stay-at-home spouse can re-enter the workforce.
Permanent alimony involves payments made to the receiving spouse until he or she remarries or either spouse dies. Courts do not award permanent alimony frequently, but they will do so when the facts of the case warrant it. Permanent alimony can be terminated if the recipient is cohabitating with a person who financially supports him or her.
Lump-sum Spousal Support
Courts can award a lump sum of spousal support as part of the divorce settlement. Instead of monthly payments, the recipient would receive a single lump sum. Lump-sum often takes the place of receiving a piece of real estate or other valuable property. For example, if a spouse keeps the family home in the divorce settlement, he or she may be required to pay the other spouse a lump-sum award.
Alimony Pendente Lite
Alimony pendente lite is a spousal support order for the duration of the divorce. The spouse with fewer financial resources will receive the payment while the divorce is ongoing to help him or her pay for living expenses, health insurance, and attorney’s fees. When a court awards alimony pendente lite, it doesn’t necessarily affect whether the court will order spousal support after the final divorce decree has been ordered.
Factors Considered in Spousal Support Decisions
Pennsylvania courts must consider all relevant factors when they decide whether spousal support should be awarded. They will consider the facts of the case when determining the amount, nature, duration, and manner of the child support payment. Under Pennsylvania law, there are multiple factors courts must consider:
- Each party’s age, physical and mental health
- The length of the marriage
- The relative needs of both parties
- The relative earnings and earning capacity of the parties
- Whether one party contributed to the training, education, or earning potential of the other party
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The contribution a spouse makes to the household as a homemaker
- Whether the requesting spouse has the skills and education necessary to be self-supporting through employment
- The amount of time it would take the parties taking all my money to acquire the education or training necessary to become self-supporting
- Whether the requesting spouse has enough property to provide for his or her financial needs
- Any expected inheritances for either party
- The tax implications of an alimony award
- Whether one party is serving as the custodian of a minor child
- Any marital misconduct of one or both parties during the marriage
When the parties cannot agree on the terms of a divorce settlement, a judge will decide for them based on the evidence the parties present. Both spouses can introduce documents, records, testimony, and legal arguments supporting their position. After considering all the evidence presented to the court and the factors mentioned above, the judge will decide. Working with an attorney can help you present a strong case during the trial court period. At Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace, our attorneys know how to advocate strongly and spousal support matters during the settlement negotiation process and in court.
How Long Do Payments Last?
Pittsburgh courts can award alimony for as long as a judge decides it is reasonable and necessary. As a result, they can award spousal support for a fixed period or indefinitely. It will terminate when the party receiving support remarries, divorces, or moves in with another partner. The partner paying or receiving alimony can petition the court to modify or terminate the alimony at any point after the divorce. However, the party requesting the modification will need to prove that substantial and ongoing changes justify the modification.
Discuss Your Case with a Pittsburgh Spousal Support Attorney
The divorce process can be a grueling experience, and you may feel like all the assets you work so hard to earn are at risk because of spousal support issues. The Pittsburgh divorce attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace are prepared to advocate for your interest and negotiate a fair spousal support agreement. Contact Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace to learn more about how we can help you achieve a favorable outcome in your divorce.