During initial consultations with clients, questions often arise concerning alimony. For one thing, many people think alimony is a given and that the higher income spouse will have to make payments to the lower income spouse after the divorce. In Pennsylvania, however, courts only award alimony if it is necessary, i.e. the distribution of the couple’s marital property did not adequately provide for the lower income spouse. In determining whether to award alimony, courts consider a variety of factors, including the spouses’ incomes, standards of living, and the duration of the marriage. Usually a court is less likely to award alimony for marriages that only lasted a short time.

Another topic that comes up is the difference between alimony and alimony pendente lite. Alimony pendente lite, often called “APL” for short, refers to payments that the higher income spouse must make to the other spouse to cover his or her costs of litigation, which are attorney’s fees. If the spouse who files for divorce is the lower income spouse, he or she often requests APL in the divorce complaint. It can also be requested separately.

Related to APL is spousal support. Pennsylvania law requires that husbands and wives support each other. This duty continues even after spouses separate, and lasts until a divorce decree is issued. As with APL, a claim for support can appear in the divorce complaint or can be filed separately.

Those are the basics about alimony, APL, and spousal support. The divorce attorneys at Petrelli Previtera are happy to discuss these topics with you in greater detail and in the context of your unique situation. Alimony and support can be daunting, but we are here to guide you through this sometimes contentious area of divorce.