QUESTION: I expect that I will be awarded alimony, how long can I expect to collect it?

Alimony is a regular payment that one spouse makes to the other spouse in order to provide financial support after a divorce. In the past, Pennsylvania courts awarded one year of alimony for every three years of marriage. But, this “rule of thumb” is no longer used. Courts now look at 17 alimony factors when deciding if and for how long alimony should be awarded.

17 Pennsylvania Alimony Factors

  1. Each spouse’s income and earning capacity
  2. The age and physical, mental and emotional health of each spouse
  3. Each spouse’s sources of income, including retirement benefits
  4. the length of the marriage
  5. Any inheritances or expected inheritances
  6. Whether one spouse contributed to the other’s education, training or increased earning potential during the marriage
  7. The extent that custody of a minor child affects the expenses and earning potential of one of the spouses
  8. The standard of living maintained during the marriage
  9. The education of both spouses and the time it would take for the spouse requesting alimony to obtain the education or training needed to find sufficient employment
  10. The assets and debts of each spouse
  11. The property that each spouse brought to the marriage
  12. Whether a spouse contributed to the marriage as a homemaker
  13. Each spouse’s financial needs
  14. Any marital misconduct that occurred during marriage (or abuse of one spouse by the other after separation)
  15. The effect of alimony on each spouse’s taxes
  16. Whether the spouse seeking alimony has enough property, including property divided in the divorce agreement, to meet reasonable needs
  17. Whether the spouse asking for alimony is incapable of self-support through employment

Alimony payments in Pennsylvania are awarded for a “reasonable period of time”. Reasonable depends on the circumstances. In some cases, there is a set end date. In other cases, an alimony order is on-going and may be reviewed and modified when circumstances change.  Pennsylvania alimony orders end automatically if the spouse receiving alimony payments remarried or lives with a member of the opposite sex who is not a family member. Alimony also ends if either of the former spouses dies.

Do you have questions about alimony in Pennsylvania? Contact Petrelli Previtera at 215-523-6900.