Spousal Support Attorney Serves the West Chester Area
Helping clients establish reasonable alimony payments
A divorce doesn’t have to jeopardize your financial future. Catherine H. Voit works hard to ensure that alimony is set at a fair level in your case. Catherine represents both those who are seeking alimony and those who are likely to be paying it. She tries to resolve disputes outside the courtroom, but she is ready to take the issue of alimony to court when necessary. Catherine, a former family court prosecutor, has more than 25 years of experience as a litigator.
Spousal support during separation
In Pennsylvania, the phrase “spousal support” refers to payments made during a separation period before a divorce. “Alimony pendente lite” refers to support awarded after a divorce proceeding begins but before it becomes final. Support payments that begin after the final divorce decree are simply called “alimony.” All such payments are intended to allow the spouse with fewer financial resources to maintain the standard of living that he or she enjoyed during the marriage.
Pennsylvania, unlike other states, uses mandatory guidelines to determine the amount of support to be paid before the divorce is final. Under the formula, the higher-earning spouse pays 40 percent of the spouses’ net monthly income differential to the lower-earning spouse, if there are no minor children. If they have children, the income differential is reduced by the amount of child support, and the result is multiplied by 30 percent. The support ends when the divorce is granted. At that point, the court may or may not order longer-term alimony payments, which are not covered by the guidelines.
The guidelines benefit divorcing spouses by providing predictability. In most West Chester divorce cases, the parties are able to reach a settlement without resorting to court action. If you are contemplating divorce, you should not have to worry about your financial stability. West Chester divorce attorney Catherine H. Voit helps you calculate equitable alimony pendente lite payments during your separation.
Alimony awarded after divorce
The term “alimony” refers exclusively to payments made after the divorce is final. It is generally a fixed amount paid on a monthly basis for a specified period of time. Spouses may negotiate alimony as part of a divorce settlement agreement or a spouse may ask the court to award it.
Unlike spousal support, there are no guidelines for determining alimony payments in Pennsylvania. When determining the amount and duration of alimony, courts are required to consider factors, including:
- The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties
- The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party and the contribution of a spouse as homemaker
- The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected serving as the custodian of a minor child
- The standard of living of the parties during the marriage
- 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
- The relative assets and liabilities of the parties
- The relative needs of the parties
- The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage
- The tax ramifications of an alimony award
Once the court determines that alimony is warranted, the payments can take a number of forms. For instance, rehabilitative alimony lasts for a limited time and is intended to help dependent ex-spouses become self-supporting. Permanent alimony lasts indefinitely until a triggering event such as remarriage or death.
Because courts are given wide discretion when awarding alimony, it can become a hotly contested issue in divorce cases. It is important to have an experienced West Chester divorce lawyer on your side. Catherine H. Voit works with clients to resolve conflicts while maintaining your dignity.
Modification of alimony
Because situations change over time, Pennsylvania’s divorce laws allow the parties to request modifications of their alimony order. The party requesting the change must show that the existing situation is now unfair because there has been a substantial change in circumstances that is expected to continue. For instance, the spouse responsible for paying alimony may have lost a job, or the spouse receiving the alimony may have obtained a high-paying job. Remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony warrant a termination of alimony.
Contact a trusted West Chester divorce law firm
Catherine H. Voit understands that divorce can unsettle your finances. She helps find a fair resolution for you. To discuss your case, call Catherine today at 484.881.3185 or contact her online. Her West Chester office has plenty of parking.