ALIMONY, APL AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT
The attorneys at BOK Law & Mediation Services are skilled in all areas of Support. We work diligently to educate clients on an effective plan to help families move forward.
When parties separate, the lower income spouse may file for support. Usually, a spouse may not file for support if the parties are still residing in the same residence, but there are exceptions to this rule.
Pennsylvania law provides for three types of spousal support. The term used to describe that support is dependent upon where the parties are in the divorce process:
This is support provided to the lower income spouse upon separation, and before a complaint in divorce has been filed. While the purpose of this support award is to meet the reasonable needs of the lower income spouse, it is not meant to be a punishment to the paying spouse. In calculating a spousal support obligation, Pennsylvania has established statewide guidelines as to how support will be calculated, what will be considered in the calculation, what the spouse’s reasonable needs and expenses are, and ultimately, what the support obligation will be. It should be noted that the paying spouse may raise a defense to this form of support, known as lack of entitlement, in situations where the spouse requesting support has engaged in conduct, usually adultery, which caused the separation of the parties.
APL (Alimony Pendente Lite)
Alimony Pendente Lite (“APL”) is support provided to the lower income spouse upon separation, and when a complaint for divorce has been filed. This form of support, which means “alimony pending litigation,” will continue throughout the divorce action, and in most cases, will terminate upon the issuance of a decree in divorce. However, if a divorce decree is issued before the persons involved have equitably divided their assets and debts, it may continue until the equitable distribution case has been resolved or litigated. The purpose is to permit the dependent spouse the opportunity to litigate the divorce action. There is no entitlement defense available for this type of support, and as such, cohabitation of the dependent spouse with another person does not terminate APL. APL is calculated using the same guidelines as spousal support.
This is support provided to the spouse after a decree in divorce has been issued. Alimony is often negotiated with the equitable distribution portion of a divorce case, or can be granted when the court deems it reasonable and necessary. If the court orders alimony, it will also outline both the duration in which the alimony should be paid, as well as the amount. In some circumstances, a court may award permanent alimony. In making a determination of whether or not alimony is necessary, the court applies factors as set forth in the Pennsylvania statute.
Alimony may terminate earlier than the prescribed duration if the parties agreed that it shall terminate upon cohabitation or remarriage of the party receiving alimony, or if one of the parties passes away during the period in which alimony is to be paid.
No matter where you are in the divorce process, attorneys of BOK Law and Mediation Services can prepare projected calculations in advance of a support conference to provide you with the critical information needed to make informed decisions about your family’s financial future.
According to Pennsylvania law, parents are liable for the support of any unemancipated children who are 18 years old or younger, and must continue to pay child support until they reach 18 years of age or graduate from high school, whichever date is later. However, parents may be liable for child support beyond the child’s 18th birthday and graduation date if the child has a physical, mental or emotional disability.
In calculating a child support obligation, Pennsylvania has established statewide guidelines addressing how support is to be calculated, what is to be considered in the calculation, and ultimately, what the child support obligation will be. The attorneys at BOK Law and Mediation Services can run these calculations in advance of a child support conference to provide you with a range of projected support.
In most circumstances, the court will consider each individual’s net income, including but not limited to all compensation sources, bonuses, commissions, dividends, royalties, rents, etc. The court may also entertain arguments that one party has a particular “earning capacity,” based upon their age, skills, education, experience, etc., which may result in a child support obligation based upon what that party should be earning, and not what a party is actually earning.
While there are few arguments that can be made to avoid a child support obligation, there are arguments that may be made to deviate from the standard guideline, including but not limited to: custody arrangements, private school tuitions, unusual medical expenses, etc.
Under Pennsylvania law, a child support obligation is always modifiable based upon a substantial change in circumstances. A change in circumstance can include an increase in income for either party, an involuntary decrease in income for either party, or a change in the custody schedule. As such, support orders may be modified several times before a child reaches emancipation.