Chester County Alimony Lawyer
Achieving a Fair Financial Resolution After a Chester County Divorce
While we often think of divorce as a personal matter, these cases almost always have a financial element. It is much more akin to dividing up a small business with specific assets and property being divided up between each member. However, there are instances where, post-divorce, one member is left in a financially unstable position. Your marriage may have afforded you a specific lifestyle and financial security which was lost after a divorce. However, in Pennsylvania, the courts can enforce alimony payments in order to ensure that one half of a divorce is not left destitute.
If you need assistance receiving alimony after a divorce or adjusting your payments, reach out to the Chesco alimony lawyer at Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Our lead attorney has more than 25 years of experience and can provide thorough legal advice about your case. Call our office at (610) 645-0100 to schedule a free consultation.
How Is Alimony Determined in Chester County?
It is important to note that alimony and spousal support are two separate issues in Pennsylvania. Spousal support refers to the financial support provided by one spouse to another when they are separated but have not filed for a divorce. In contrast, alimony can be required during the divorce, often referred to as Alimony pendente lite, and then after a divorce, which is referred to as periodic alimony.
Alimony is based on the concept that one side of a divorce may be left financially unsecure once the divorce is finalized. This could be because one member of a marriage focused on taking care of the home, looking after children, or simply made less money than their spouse. After they have divided up their marital assets, there may still be a large financial gap between them, sometimes caused by uneven pre- or postnuptial agreements.
Thus, it is up to the discretion of the Pennsylvania courts to determine whether or not alimony is necessary and how much an ex-spouse can receive. Within Chester County, these cases are handled by the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, which utilizes Pennsylvania’s 17-part test to determine alimony per Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23 Pa.C.S.A Section 3701. These 17 factors include:
- Each spouse’s financial income
- How long the marriage lasted
- Each spouse’s age and health, including physical, mental, and emotional health
- Other sources of income, such as medical, retirement, and insurance benefits
- Estimated future income or inheritances
- How each spouse contributed to the other’s education, certifications, training, and earning potential
- The cost of raising a minor child
- Whether or not each spouse’s lifestyle will drastically change post-divorce
- Each spouse’s education level and ability to acquire new employment
- Each spouse’s individual assets and liabilities
- Any property or assets a spouse brought into the marriage
- Whether or not one spouse was a “homemaker”
- Each spouse’s needs
- Whether or not a spouse committed domestic violence, adultery, or another form of misconduct
This may all seem incredibly complicated, and we understand if you are feeling a bit of whiplash from this information. Alimony can be extremely complex, but, simply put, it is designed to ensure each side of a divorce can enjoy a reasonable lifestyle after a divorce. If one member is struggling to pay rent while the other can take multiple vacations each year, that would not be considered reasonable by the court, and it may require alimony payments be made to the struggling ex-spouse. The court will work to achieve a fair resolution, which means that both sides are able to enjoy financial security based on their unique situations.
Can Alimony Be Changed?
Because alimony is periodic, the courts will outline a timeline for these payments. These payments are designed to give one side of a divorce to get back on their feet, financially speaking, and in most cases comes with a fixed end date. However, if an ex-spouse has difficulties finding work due to a disability or age, then the court may require regular payments for the rest of their life.
There is no standard timeline that the courts follow for periodic alimony. While one divorce could lead to five years of alimony payments, another may have half of that. In addition, the courts can suspend payments for a period of time if one member comes under significant financial hardships that limit their ability to make payments, or even cancel alimony altogether if it determines that both spouses are financially secure. Because of the amount of control Chester County courts have over alimony payments, you will want to have a skilled Chester County family law lawyer representing you throughout your divorce and afterward to ensure you receive fair treatment under the law.
What If My Ex Is Not Paying Alimony?
Alimony is always court-ordered, so any refusal or delay in making payments is taken extremely seriously. The court can require both sides of a divorce to attend a conduct hearing (or multiple hearings) to determine if the payment schedule needs to be adjusted. If the paying ex-spouse continues to refuse to make payments, the court may seize their personal property based on the value of the missed payments, garnish wages, and apply interest to past-due payments. In rare circumstances, it may also find the individual in contempt of court, which is a criminal charge in Pennsylvania.
Whether you are having difficulties making payments or getting your ex-spouse to make payments, you need strong legal representation. Missing a single payment can put you on the wrong foot with the court and you will need a persuasive argument to ensure that your situation is clearly explained to the court.
In-Depth Legal Advice When You Need It
The financial ramifications of alimony can be significant, following you for years to come and determining how comfortable a life you will have after your divorce. If you need assistance determining alimony in your divorce, contact a Chester County family law attorney at Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Our office can evaluate every aspect of your case, from your financial situation to the nature of your divorce, so that you receive proper representation throughout your divorce. Contact us at (610) 645-0100 to schedule a free consultation.