Alimony, Support, and Child Support
With respect to alimony, support, and child support, Pennsylvania divorce law treats men and women similarly when they are in similar situations. That means that a higher-earning spouse can be ordered to pay support or alimony to a lower-earning spouse. This often comes as an unwelcome surprise to a spouse who has created the wealth and income in the family while the other spouse has stayed home with children or pursued a career that simply doesn’t pay as well. No matter which side of this situation you are on, Timoney Knox’s family lawyers can help you calculate the risks and benefits of your position.
Alimony pendente lite or spousal support is a payment obligation from one spouse to the other which can be granted during separation without the divorce being final to help the lower-earning spouse cope with the separation itself. Alimony after the divorce can be awarded by a judge or negotiated between the parties. The amount and duration of the alimony, and even whether alimony is available, can vary depending on the family’s circumstances. Sometimes alimony payments are offset against property distributions, although a lower-earning spouse often receives both. Unlike property distribution, “marital misconduct” can be considered by the courts in determining whether or not to award alimony.
After a divorce, the spouse receiving alimony can jeopardize a right to have the payments continue by remarriage or cohabitation. Sometimes, alimony or support is “modifiable” for changed circumstances like the paying spouse losing a job and therefore the income needed to pay the alimony.
A seasoned Timoney Knox family lawyer can consider all of the possibilities with you and help you to negotiate or win the best arrangement for you, and deal with circumstances that arise.
Child support is very different from alimony under Pennsylvania law, which recognizes that both parents have a duty to support their children until those children are 18, and longer if a child is disabled. Pennsylvania has published guidelines which help the court analyze the number of children to be supported, the income of each parent, where the child spends a majority of time, and whether there are other children to support from another family. Which parent carries health insurance is also part of a support order. Child care or other expenses can be ordered as well. The Court will order child support payments to be deducted from paychecks of the paying parent and sent directly to the state support collection system to be recorded and electronically deposited into the bank account of the receiving parent. The parties can also negotiate a fair amount of child support and agree to pay it through college, although Pennsylvania law would not require this.
A Timoney Knox family lawyer can help you understand the court’s guidelines and consider what other factors might need to be calculated for your family.