What Determines Alimony After a Divorce?

The state of Pennsylvania has provided a highly specific formula for calculating the appropriate amount for child support and an equally specific formula for what is known as alimony pendente lite. Alimony pendente lite is spousal support provided between the time that the divorce is initiated and the time that it is finalized. But when it comes to the question of support to be provided after the divorce is final, known as alimony, there are several factors that are weighed. The problem is that there’s no specific roadmap that determines the amount to be paid or the length of time that payments are to be made. This can lead to a significant amount of frustration and confusion.

The lack of clarity regarding alimony determinations has led to a few myths. These include the myth that the duration of payment is based on the length of the marriage or that a specific valuation is based on income levels. The truth is that there are seventeen factors that the court weighs. Though the court will weigh the length of the marriage and the earning capacity of each partner, the results are entirely unpredictable. And for this reason, it is often best to negotiate an agreement rather than enter a courtroom with an entirely unpredictable outcome.

The seventeen factors that the court takes into consideration before making a decision are:

  1. Each spouse’s current earnings and earning capacity
  2. The overall health (mental and physical) of each spouse, as well as their age
  3. The source of income for each spouse, including earnings, savings, investments
  4. The life expectancy of each spouse and whether there is an expectation that they will receive any inheritance
  5. How long the marriage lasted
  6. Whether either spouse supported or contributed to the other receiving an advanced degree that provides the opportunity for higher earning potential
  7. Whether one spouse is a stay-at-home parent and therefore unable to work and earn income to cover their expenses
  8. The previously established marital lifestyle of the couple
  9. Each spouse’s education level and what that enables in terms of earning capacity
  10. The assets and liabilities of each spouse
  11. Premarital assets and remaining assets after the divorce is final
  12. Contributions one spouse made to keep the marital home in order
  13. The post-divorce needs of each party
  14. The existence of any abuse or infidelity
  15. How alimony will affect the tax liability of each spouse
  16. Whether the spouse requesting alimony has enough assets to provide for their own needs
  17. Whether the spouse requesting alimony can support themselves by working

If you are approaching or in the midst of a divorce and you need representation or guidance regarding alimony or any other element of the process, we can help. Contact us today to set up an appointment.