Alimony in Pennsylvania is usually awarded as rehabilitative or reimbursement alimony. As it sounds, reimbursement alimony helps to pay back a spouse for helping with some major expense of the ex-spouse, often education. Rehabilitative alimony is generally awarded for a fixed time period to give the receiving spouse time to receive training or otherwise become self-supporting.
However, there are times when the possibility of a spouse becoming self-supporting is unlikely. In these circumstances, a ruling of permanent alimony is possible.
The awarding of alimony depends on 17 factors defined by law. In summary, those factors include matters of standard of living during the marriage, income level or income potential of each spouse, and various available financial resources weighed against financial need. Also considered are marital misconduct, each spouse’s contribution to the care of minor children, the length of the marriage, and the health of each spouse.
The factors that weigh most heavily on the question of permanent alimony include:
- The presence of long-term or permanent physical or mental disability or illness
- The length of the marriage
- The age of the spouse and the lack of marketable skills that would allow a spouse to be reasonably expected to attain self-support
The word “permanent” is somewhat misleading, because such alimony can in actuality be stopped if the payer or recipient dies or if the recipient either remarries or co-habits with a member of the opposite sex who is not a relative.
Permanent alimony can also be modified, if the circumstances of either spouse change substantially and are expected to be long-term.
When couples negotiate an agreement, they may be able to determine a fair alimony payment that takes into consideration their standard of living, budgeted expenses and income, and the financial opportunities of each spouse. Since the rules governing the awarding of alimony in Pennsylvania are not distinctly defined and there is no set calculation, the amount and duration of alimony awarded is entirely at the discretion of the judge, and therefore sometimes a surprise to both spouses.
An experienced divorce lawyer can help you negotiate an agreement that is fair to both parties, or when necessary, help you present your best possible position in court. Reach out to us here at Ulmer Law to discuss how we can help you.