How Much Can I Get in Alimony?
Pennsylvania law does allow for alimony but it can only be granted if you and your spouse agree or a judge deems it necessary. Because every marriage is different and because earning capacity differs widely, there is no standard formula that is used to decide on alimony amounts. There are, however, guidelines in the law.
If you believe you should receive alimony, we will review your case and make sure that you receive an amount that will help you maintain your lifestyle as you build your own wealth.
Alimony is also called spousal support or spousal maintenance. In Pennsylvania, alimony is usually awarded for "rehabilitation" or "reimbursement." Reimbursement alimony repays a spouse for any support provided, financial or otherwise, while the other spouse received an education, built a company, etc. This is generally given for a short time. Rehabilitative alimony supports the spouse while he or she receives training or education to be self-supporting.
Factors determining alimony in PA
PA law defines 17 relevant factors that guide the judge "in determining whether alimony is necessary and in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment of alimony" (23 PA CS 3701). These factors can be generally summed up as:
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Income level or income potential of each spouse
- Available financial resources weighed against financial need
- Marital misconduct or abuse
- Each spouse's contribution to the care of minor children
- Length of the marriage
- Health of each spouse
- Custody of children and child support
So-called "permanent" alimony may be awarded for the following reasons:
- Long-term or permanent disability, mental or physical
- Length of marriage
- Age of spouse and likelihood that the spouse could be reasonably expected to be self-supporting
Permanent alimony ends if one spouse dies or if the receiving spouse marries or cohabitates with a romantic partner.
Making a case for alimony
A judge's alimony decision will be based on reasonable earnings that can be expected by the one paying the alimony. For example, if a doctor husband historically made $200,000 a year but decides he doesn't want to work that hard anymore, the judge may still base the alimony on the $200,000. The doctor would need to prove he has a valid reason for not making the reasonably-expected salary. For instance, he might have a psychologist testify that the change was necessary for reasons of stress. There is still no guarantee that the judge will accept this argument if a good lawyer can argue successfully against the change.
The subjective nature of alimony awards underscores the importance of choosing an experienced lawyer who knows how to present to the court a clear argument for alimony, backed by financial facts and convincing arguments. At the Law Offices of Blitshtein and Weiss, P.C., we work with our clients for fair child support and alimony payments that will provide you and any children you may have with a good standard of living and the financial security you need to move on and build a new life for yourself. Call us in our Southampton office today at (215) 364-4900 for a free consultation.