Spousal Support? Can I get it? Do I have to pay it?

By:  Dawn Padanyi, Esquire

If you are married and separated from your spouse you probably heard terms like spousal support, APL and Alimony thrown around.

Spousal Support is “care, maintenance and financial assistance” for one’s spouse.  (23 Pa.C.S. §3103).

Under the law, married persons are liable for the support of each other according to their abilities to provide support.  Spousal support is designed to provide a reasonable living allowance for a dependent spouse.

Most Courts require the parties to be physically living apart before entering an Order for support.  At a minimum the parties must be able to prove financial independence from his/her spouse.

There is no difference under the law between a husband and wife in regard to whether or not support will be granted to either.  The law is gender neutral.

Spousal Support is calculated using one of two formulas, depending on whether or not there are minor children of the marriage.

If there are no minor children, then spousal support is calculated by taking 40% of the difference in the net monthly income for both spouses.  If either spouse is not employed, the Court could still assess an income if the individual has an earning capacity.  In other words, if there is no legitimate reason that the individual is unable to work, then he/she will be given an early capacity based on past relevant work or on his/her skills.  At a minimum, the Court will assess a minimum wage/full time income to an able bodied individual.

If there are minor children involved then the spousal support is calculated by taking 30% of the difference in the net monthly incomes  for both spouses after child support paid is subtracted from the payor’s monthly income.

Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) relates to support of one’s spouse, but is a slightly different matter and of course there is alimony, which is post-divorce payments to a former spouse.

Spousal Support, APL and Alimony have nuances that can get complicated especially in the midst of a divorce, so it is best to contact a lawyer to assist you in running some calculations and preparing a strategy.  Please contact the Law Office of Dawn Padanyi, LLC for an initial consultation on spousal support for further advice and information.

Stay tuned to www.padanyilaw.com for the blog on APL and Alimony to learn the differences between spousal support, APL, and alimony.