Filing for a Divorce in Pennsylvania? What to Know About Finances

A common concern for those filing for divorce is the effect such divorce filing may have on their financial future. For stay at home spouses, the focus may be on their employability or lack thereof – will it be possible to find a suitable position after taking many years off to raise children and care for the family? For most individuals with minor children, whether serving as the primary, equal or partial custodian, the worry is having enough financial resources to provide the same ongoing financial support and avoid a negative impact on the children’s standard of living – can the children stay in their current child care arrangements and continue to participate in their extracurricular activities? These are just some of the questions that face individuals going through a divorce in Doylestown and other parts of Pennsylvania.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of financial support individuals may receive when going through the divorce process.

Spousal Support

Even before a divorce complaint is filed, the income inferior spouse may be eligible to receive spousal support from the income superior spouse. The key to entitlement is that the parties be “separated.” The separation can be physical (i.e., the parties no longer live in the same residence), financial (i.e., the income superior spouse has cut off the income inferior spouse from the parties’ finances) or both (i.e., the parties no longer live in the same residence and have segregated their finances).

Alimony Pendente Lite (APL)

After the divorce complaint is filed, the income inferior spouse may be eligible to receive alimony pendente lite (APL) from the income superior spouse. The income inferior spouse can receive APL even if he or she is ineligible to receive spousal support due to the assertion of an entitlement defense, because the key to APL entitlement is “need.” Typically, the income disparity between the parties will be sufficient to demonstrate need, but the court will consider other factors, such as the availability of other financial resources, etc.

Note: While it is possible to be eligible to receive either spousal support or APL, at no time will any individual be able to receive both simultaneously.

Alimony

The only type of support payable after entry of the divorce decree is alimony. However, it is important to assert a claim for alimony before entry of the divorce decree, or such claim will be deemed irrevocably waived. Oftentimes, the spousal support or APL award will convert into an alimony award upon entry of the divorce decree, but again, it is crucial to assert the alimony claim in a timely manner.

For a discussion on how support, APL and alimony are calculated, see Doylestown, PA Divorces – Calculating Spousal Support, APL and Alimony.