Divorce proceedings, including equitable distribution, can be complicated.  While there are many components involved in the resolution of a divorce, alimony is one of the main areas of discussion.  The importance given to the topic is justified as it’s something that can have an impact on each spouse involved. If you have earned or are earning substantially more money than your spouse and you’ve been married for several years, you may be required to pay monthly alimony after you are divorced.



Alimony is usually classified as a payment from one spouse to another after a divorce. It differs from spousal support and alimony pendente lite because it’s a payment made after the issuance of the divorce decree, while orders for spousal support and alimony pendente lite are in effect during the divorce proceeding but prior to the entry of the decree in divorce.

What’s the purpose of alimony?
Alimony was created to effect economic justice between the parties; however, it is a secondary remedy and applies only if economic justice cannot be achieved by way of an equitable distribution between spouses of the marital property making up the marital estate.  Alimony serves as a means to help a party meet their reasonable needs when their income and the assets awarded in equitable distribution are insufficient to meet those reasonable needs.

How long does alimony last?
Where appropriate, alimony may be awarded for either a definite or an indefinite period of time.  The amount is based on the reasonable needs of the recipient, in accord with the standard of living during the marriage and the ability of the payor to make payments. Depending on the basis for alimony (whether entered by order of court or by agreement of the parties), alimony may or may not be modifiable based upon a substantial and continuing change in circumstances.  Alimony may also be terminated if an ex-spouse receiving the alimony remarries or cohabits, as defined by Pennsylvania law, with a romantic partner, or either party dies.

What factors does the court consider when making a decision about alimony?
The court will consider the 17 factors enumerated in the Divorce Code when making a decision as to award alimony. Some of these factors include:

  • Relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties
  • Inheritance expectations for each spouse
  • Ages and physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties
  • Marriage duration
  • Sources of income, including but not limited to medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits
  • Tax ramifications
  • Extent to which one party’s earning capacity will be affected by having custody of children
  • Standard of living during marriage
  • Whether the party seeking alimony is capable of self-support through employment
  • Marital misconduct during the marriage

Alimony can be a topic of worry for many going through a divorce, but it’s important to know that divorce does not have to lead to financial ruin. You can rely on our lawyers’ knowledge and reputation to secure the resolution of your divorce-related issues, including alimony, by agreement with your spouse or through litigation in the courts. Our lawyers have the experience to advise you on which course will resolve your divorce in the best manner possible, always in accord with the outcomes most important to you.

If you are divorcing and have concerns about alimony, the attorneys of Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby can provide the guidance and representation you need. To consult with one of our divorce attorneys, contact us online or call 412-261-4040. We represent business and professional clients with family law concerns across western Pennsylvania.

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