Written By: Ali Audi | December 18, 2013 | No Comments
Almost every client that comes into our office needing help with a divorce wants to know
- what kind of Spousal Support they are entitled to, or
- what kind of support they might have to pay.
Spousal Support, APL, and Alimony Are Different and Still Used in Pennsylvania
- have never heard of APL;
- think that Spousal Support and Alimony are the same things; and
- believe PA divorce law is no longer uses Alimony.
It’s no surprise our clients are confused. That’s because a quick Google search revealed there’s a lot of conflicting and incorrect information out there. The reality is that Spousal Support, APL, and Alimony are all different and are all still used in Pennsylvania at different times.
What Is Spousal Support?
- Spousal Support is applicable when a couple separates and one spouse is more financially secure than the other. Financial security is based on the net income and earning capacity of each party.
- The spouse who is more financially secure is called the Payor Spouse.
- The spouse less financially secure is called the Payee Spouse.
- The Payor Spouse may be obligated to pay Spousal Support to the Payee Spouse cover day-to-day support needs.
- The Payee Spouse can request Spousal Support before or after either party has filed for divorce.
- Spousal Support can be more limited or withheld because of
- spouses continue to live under the same roof, or
- marital fault.
What is APL?
APL stands for Alimony pendente lite (or Alimony pending litigation). APL is mostly similar to Spousal Support except for three vital points.
- The Payor Spouse can only request APL can after the divorce proceeding has begun.
- Because APL is supposed to allow the Payee Spouse to either prosecute or defend the divorce action, APL can include the payee’s additional legal expenses (for example, counsel fees).
- Lastly, APL is payable regardless of cohabitation or marital fault.
Therefore, both Spousal Support and APL are calculated using the same Pennsylvania Support Guidelines. But the court can grant an upward modification to the guideline amount because of the Payee Spouse’s added legal expenses. Otherwise, if the court did not add legal costs to the guideline amount, the Payee Spouse can bring a separate action for counsel fees and legal expenses.
Deciding to Receive Spousal Support or APL
A Payee Spouse is only entitled to either Spousal Support or APL. It’s important to know the difference between the two and file for the appropriate one depending on the specific facts of each case.
If the Payee Spouse receives APL, they must be careful not to delay the divorce proceeding unnecessarily. Delays may cause the Payee Spouse to become ineligible for more payments.
- decide whether if Spousal Support or APL is best for you in your situation; and
- estimate the payment amounts you would receive based on the Pennsylvania Guidelines.
The court awards
- Spousal Support and APL before a divorce before it finalizes the divorce.
- Alimony after issuing the divorce decree.
- Alimony when the Payee Spouse does not have the means to be self-supporting through employment or property ownership.
The amount of Alimony the court will award is much more difficult to predict. That’s because it is not calculated using a mathematical formula (as APL and Spousal Support are). Instead, it is based on 17 different factors including the
- payor’s ability to pay;
- equitable distribution of the couple’s assets;
- reasonable needs of the payee based on the standard of living the spouses established during the marriage; and
- length of the marriage.
Duration of Alimony
Estimating the duration of Alimony is also quite difficult because it is very fact-specific. Many people think there is a rule, such as half or one-third the length of the marriage. However, although the duration of the marriage is a factor, it is only one of several.
The Court can set Alimony for an indefinite or a definite period. The court could find
- that the Payee Spouse can soon become self-supporting and set the Alimony for a very brief period, or
- the Payee Spouse will never be able to be self-supporting and could make the Alimony permanent.
Alimony will generally stop once the Payee Spouse gets remarried or starts cohabitation with another person unless the parties agreed to continue Alimony in a private contract.
Even the court already entered an order for Spousal Support, APL, or Alimony; the court can modify any of them if there has been a change in circumstances. We can help you determine if this might be appropriate in your specific case.
You Won’t Find Better Spousal Support and Alimony Attorneys in Reading, PA and Berks County
We have over 40 years’ experience helping in Berks County around Reading, PA decide on the best way to file for support. We can help you too. Contact Us Online or Call Us at 610-670-9000 to get started with a confidential consultation.
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