DETERMINING ALIMONY IN PENNSYLVANIA
Alimony in Pennsylvania is not a myth; it does exist as a remedy in divorce that can be awarded by the court. Whether or not you will get alimony in your case depends on many different factors. Alimony is a remedy by virtue of the Pennsylvania Statute at 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3701.
WHAT COURTS LOOK AT IN ALIMONY DETERMINATIONS
Under the present statute in 2017, the factors that the court will consider when they determine whether to award alimony, how long to award alimony and the amount of alimony to award are as follows:
- 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, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or 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 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 this paragraph, “abuse” shall have the meaning given to it under section 6102 (relating to definitions).
- The federal, state and local tax ramifications of 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.
Alimony that is awarded by the court either will be for a defined period of time or can be an indefinite period of time. The order for alimony entered by the court can be modified, suspended, terminated or reinstituted when there are changed circumstances of either party of a substantial and continuing nature. The new order in those cases will be retroactive to the date that the petition is filed. Even a voluntarily retirement can prompt a modification of an alimony award. If the party receiving the alimony remarries, the order will terminate.
Alimony that is entered as an order is deductible and is considered income to the party receiving the alimony.
When alimony is entered into by agreement, whether the alimony is modifiable or terminates by cohabitation or remarriage depends on the terms of the agreement that were reached. In addition, whether the alimony will be deductible also depends on the terms and whether it is entered as a court order. Some lump sum payments will not be deductible or where alimony is exchanged for other assets. It is important that you consult with your tax professional when entering into an alimony agreement to understand the tax implications in your particular case.
Every county in Pennsylvania has their own methods of determining alimony. In some counties, the court will use the same figure that a party was receiving in APL. In other counties, the court will weigh the factors to determine an amount that they find to be reasonable. It is important to be sure to inquire how your particular county views and treats alimony.