Determining if alimony is needed in a divorce case

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2020 | Divorce

There are many misconceptions that exist about the awarding of alimony in divorce cases in Pittsburgh. Chief among these is that it is only given to women (often based on the assumption that men are typically the primary income earners in the marital home). While that may have held true in the past, the membership of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports seeing an almost 45% increase in the cases of women being obligated to pay alimony in recent years. This is because alimony is not meant to be a form of fiscal punishment on the more financially advantaged spouse. Rather, it is simply meant to help one who cannot yet support themselves to transition into their post-divorce life.

This fact references another major misconception about alimony: that it’s awarding is automatic in a divorce case. The expectation is that both parties to a divorce will be able to maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed while married. If both are capable of affording such a standard on their own, then alimony may not be needed. Even if one may not, the court may consider other factors before imposing an alimony obligation.

These other factors can be found in Section 3701 of Pennsylvania’s Domestic Relations Code. They include:

  • The relative earning capacity of both parties
  • The physical and mental conditions (as well as the ages) of both parties
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The extent to which the obligations to care for children hinders one party’s ability to work
  • The assets and property both parties brought into the marriage
  • Any marital misconduct on the part of either party

Even if it is determined that alimony is needed, the obligation to pay it ends when the one receiving it remarries or becomes capable of supporting themselves.

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