ALIMONY IN PENNSYLVANIA
Alimony has been in Pennsylvania for a long time, despite inaccurate stories to the contrary. In 1980, the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted the Divorce Code and Alimony “Factors” were codified. These factors include, among others, the length of marriage, the parties’ health, assets and income (see below). While there is no set duration statewide, the local “rule of thumb” for alimony is 1/3 the length of marriage. In other words, in a 21-year marriage, the economically lesser spouse may receive alimony for up to seven (7) years. In addition to the statutory factors, the Court will also look at the division/distribution of the marital estate. The higher the percentage distribution, the less potential alimony the recipient of such will receive. Family law is not an exact science, that is why it is important to be represented by competent counsel with experience as you navigate your way through a sometimes painful and emotional process.
The Courts in Pennsylvania use the following factors in determining Alimony:
23 PS §3701 – Factors Relevant – In determining whether alimony is necessary and in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment of alimony, the court will consider all relevant factors, including:
- The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
- The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
- The sources of income of both parties, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance and other benefits.
- The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
- 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.
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
- 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.
- The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
- The property brought to the marriage by either party.
- The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker.
- The relative needs of the parties.
- 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. As used in the paragraph ‘abuse’ shall have the meaning given to it under section §6102 (relating to definitions).
- The Federal, State and local tax ramifications to the alimony award.
- 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.
- Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.