I get asked this question a lot: "Is there alimony is Pennsylvania?" My response is "Yes." The next question usually is: "Will I get alimony?" or "Will I have to pay alimony?" My response depends on the case, but the simple answer is "You might." The Divorce Code at 23 Pa.C.S.A. 3701 states that when a divorce decree has been entered, "The court may allow alimony, as it deems reasonable… only if it finds that alimony is necessary." To determine if alimony is reasonable and necessary the Court looks at the following 17 factors:
(1) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
(2) The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
(3) The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
(4) The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
(5) The duration of the marriage.
(6) The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
(7) The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
(8) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
(9) The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.
(10) The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
(11) The property brought to the marriage by either party.
(12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
(13) The relative needs of the parties.
(14) The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct of either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party.
(15) The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
(16) Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 (relating to property rights), to provide for the party’s reasonable needs.
(17) Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.
Once the Court determines that alimony is reasonable and necessary, the Court has the discretion to determine the length of time a person pays/receives alimony. The Court may base it upon the length of the marriage, the time it would take the recipient spouse to find appropriate employment, or an event (such as a child graduating from high school or the recipient spouse becoming eligible for social security or retirement).
The Court has lots of discretion when it comes to alimony, but the bottom line is that alimony exists in Pennsylvania.