What Factors Do Judges Consider in Awarding Spousal Support?

If you are facing the possibility of getting a divorce in Pennsylvania, you may be wondering if you will receive or have to pay alimony, and if so, how much. Unlike the calculation of child support, there is no formula for determining the amount of spousal support in Pennsylvania. A Reading divorce lawyer can help you understand the factors that judges consider when awarding spousal support. In the meantime, take a look at the following 17-factors.

Pennsylvania judges use statutory guidelines called the “17 Factors” when deciding how much alimony to award in a divorce, what kind of spousal support, how long it will last, and the form of payment.  These components are:

  1. The income and earning capacity of both spouses
  2. The condition of each party (physical, mental, and emotional) and their relative ages
  3. How much income each party can expect after the divorce, as well as benefits such as medical, insurance, and retirement benefits
  4. Any inheritance either spouse received or expects to receive
  5. How long the marriage lasted
  6. The amount that either spouse contributed so that the other spouse could get an education, training or increased earning power
  7. If either spouse is raising a young child, how much doing so will impact his or her ability to earn income and increase that spouse’s expenses and financial obligations
  8. The standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage
  9. The level of education of each spouse and how long the spouse receiving alimony needs to complete education or training to acquire sufficient employment
  10. The debts and assets of each spouse compared to the other
  11. The assets each party had before the marriage
  12. Homemaker contribution by either spouse
  13. Each spouse’s needs compared to the other
  14. Marital misconduct of either party until the time of separation. Only abuse will be considered by the court after the parties separated.
  15. How the alimony award will affect the federal, state, and local tax liability of each party
  16. The ability of either party to meet his or her reasonable needs with the property the spouse will retain after the divorce
  17. The inability of either spouse to be financial self-supporting through employment.

After evaluating all 17 factors, if the court determines it is appropriate to award spousal support, the court can fix the duration of support for a definite time period or designate the support as indefinite in duration. The judge must give her reasons for awarding alimony and justify the amount or the denial of alimony.

An Alternative to the 17 Factors Analysis

The parties are allowed to reach an agreement as to whether there will be spousal support and the amount and duration of support. If the judge approves the agreement, it will be as enforceable as an order from the court.

When Alimony Ends

Regardless of the stated duration of spousal support, it can terminate earlier if any of these events happen:

  • The alimony recipient dies
  • The alimony payer dies, unless the court order or agreement says otherwise
  • The receiving spouse gets remarried or lives with a non-relative member of the opposite sex

If you have questions regarding spousal support, give us a call today to set up a free legal consultation with a Pennsylvania divorce attorney today.