Unhappy Couple DivorcingWhether you are considering a divorce or are already in the middle of a divorce, you will have to understand as much as you can about alimony payments after you are divorced, as well as spousal support while your divorce is pending.

Calculating Spousal Support
The determination of spousal support is made by taking the difference in the net incomes of the parties, and multiplying that figure by a certain percentage (40% in cases where there is no concurrent child support, and 30% where there is child support in place).  The spouse earning more would pay this percentage of the difference to the other spouse.  Of course, many factors go into the determination of what net income a party actually has, and what net income a court will presume a party could be, or should be, earning. Learn more about net incomes for spousal support. 

Calculating Alimony
The unfortunate reality is, if you have earned or earn substantially more money than your spouse and you’ve been married for several years, then there’s a very good chance you will be required to pay some monthly alimony after you are divorced.   Keep in mind, alimony generally isn’t awarded or required for short marriages, or if you and your spouse earn close to the same amount.  Learn more about the Pennsylvania law regarding divorce and alimony.

There is no set guideline or specific calculations that the courts can look at when calculating alimony.  Below you will find some of the items that the law requires that Pennsylvania courts consider when calculating alimony:

  • Income of each spouse
  • Length of marriage
  • Age of spouses
  • Physical, mental, and emotional health of spouses
  • Sources of income
  • Inheritances and property expected to inherit
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Whether a spouse contributed to the marriage as a homemaker or wage earner
  • Financial needs of each spouse
  • Marital misconduct
  • Property and assets brought to the marriage
  • Property and assets awarded in divorce
  • Whether either or both spouses have custody of a child

Duration of Alimony
As with many of the issues you’ll work through during a divorce, if you and your spouse can agree to the amount and length of time that alimony will be paid then the courts will not intervene and establish time-frames for you.  However, if you and your spouse cannot agree to an amount and/or a length of time, then the courts will order that alimony payments continue for a reasonable period of time depending on circumstances.  The courts may review the duration and circumstances around alimony payments and review and change the orders if the circumstances change.  In most cases, if you and your spouse do not agree on alimony then you can expect to pay a set amount per month until one of the following occurs:

  • Your former spouse remarries
  • Either spouse dies
  • You reach the date “set” by the judge

There may also be other reasons for modification or termination of alimony where there are changed circumstances of either party, and these changes are substantial and continuing.  Examples include retirement, large settlements or winning the lottery.

If the court has to make the decision, then you can expect to spend more money because when the court is involved there will be a trial which in turn may mean increased time and expense.

These are only a few of the variables involved when considering how alimony is determined.  There are a series of other things to consider such as:  Tax Implications of Alimony, Enforcing Alimony Orders, Negotiating Alimony, and much more.  If you are divorcing and have concerns about alimony, the law firm of Wilder, Mahood, McKinley & Oglesby can provide the guidance and representation you need. Contact our seasoned lawyers online or call our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at 412-261-4040.

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