Alimony is a payment by a former spouse following divorce made to meet the needs of the other former spouse who is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment. Alimony is based upon the reasonable needs of a former spouse in accordance with the lifestyle and standard of living established by the parties during the marriage, as well as a former spouses’ ability to pay. Alimony is a secondary remedy and not everyone receives alimony.
The primary purpose of alimony is to provide the receiving spouse with sufficient income to obtain the necessities of life after the dissolution of the marriage. Note that the purpose of alimony is not to reward one party or to punish the other.

The Pennsylvania Divorce Code sets forth 17 factors that Courts are to consider in determining whether alimony is necessary and in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment:

  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. As used in this paragraph, “abuse” shall have the meaning given to it under section 6102 (relating to definitions).
  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.
    It is important to realize that only one of the 17 factors above addresses marital misconduct during the marriage. Therefore, even if your spouse engaged in marital misconduct, it is not certain that you will receive alimony.

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