Overview of Spousal Support
Contrary to some people’s assumptions, spousal support is not ordered in every divorce case. Instead, one spouse must request the court order support, or the parties must agree to a support arrangement. Unless the parties agree to a specific support amount, the court is tasked with determining the amount of support to award.
What Is Spousal Support For?
The purpose of spousal support is to require a higher-earning spouse to provide income to a lower-earning or unemployed spouse. Spousal support is intended to allow both parties to maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed during their marriage, or at least allow both parties to enjoy a roughly equal standard of living. Otherwise, the higher-earning spouse would be able to continue enjoying the pre-divorce standard of living while the lower-earning spouse would not. Spousal support also prevents a lower-earning spouse from becoming financially distressed or needing to rely on public assistance.
Factors in Determining Spousal Support
Courts are required by statute and case law to consider a number of factors when determining spousal support, including the spouses’ ages, physical health, emotional well-being, and financial conditions, the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, the separate property of each spouse, the presence of a child support obligation, and the ability of a lower-earning spouse to become self-sufficient (including any education or training that the spouse may need).
Incomes and Earning Capacities
The respective incomes and earning capacities of the spouses is often one of the most important factors in determining spousal support, if not the most important factor. A spouse’s earning capacity is generally determined by looking at the spouse’s education, work history, job skills, age, and health. An earning capacity is not necessarily linked to the wages or salary that a spouse actually earns. In some cases, a court may impute a higher earning capacity if it finds that a spouse is underemployed. Or a court may impute an earning capacity to an unemployed spouse after determining what that spouse’s income would be if he or she was employed.
Impact of Other Property
Finally, the court may take into account other funds or property that each spouse has. For example, a lower-earning spouse who has significant savings or inheritances may have their spousal support reduced if those funds could allow him or her to maintain a standard of living. Or a court may award a lower-earning spouse a greater share of the marital estate during equitable distribution in lieu of a spousal support award.
Contact a Lansdale Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Spousal Support in Pennsylvania Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The Pennsylvania family law attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. represent clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania including Newtown, Doylestown, King of Prussia, and Norristown. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (215) 822-7575 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 2605 N. Broad St., Colmar, PA 18915, as well as an office located in Newtown, PA.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.