Montgomery County Spousal Support Lawyer
Spousal Support in Pennsylvania
Spousal support is support paid for a dependent spouse while the parties are still married, before a divorce is final. The court evaluates each individual family situation and determines a fair amount that provides for the basic financial needs of the dependent spouse during the divorce process.
To get spousal support, you will typically need to meet with the court in an intake interview, in which they will assess the facts and information of your situation. To prove your eligibility, it is important to gather all relevant documents beforehand. Contact a Montgomery County divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., at (866) 290-9292 for in-depth assistance.
"I earn considerable more than my spouse. Sheryl explained child support, spousal support and alimony. Together we did calculations she was within a $1 of the court ordered amount. Sheryl understands the law and the system."
What’s the Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Support?
In Pennsylvania, alimony is court-ordered payments to an ex-spouse after a divorce has been finalized. Alimony is based on the discretion of the presiding judge. Alimony pedente lite or spousal support are payments that the more financially able spouse makes during the divorce proceeding. Spousal support is determined by state guidelines.
What Documents Should You Have for an Intake Interview?
- Social security cards for you and your children
- Photo ID, like a driver’s license
- Proof of current address, like a utility bill
- You and your spouse’s employers’ names and addresses
- Documentation of all sources of income for you and your spouse, such as SSI, military benefits, unemployment, payroll statements, etc.
- Healthcare information
- Last few years of tax forms
- A copy of your marriage license, and any separation or prenuptial agreement if available
- Copies of any court orders, such as protection orders
If you have dependent children, it’s also good to have:
- Proof of childcare costs
- Birth certificates
- Proof of custody and/or paternity if necessary
How Is Spousal Support Calculated?
The Pennsylvania Code provides the courts with authority to determine the amount, duration, and manner in which support is to be paid to the dependent spouse. The courts come to a conclusion based on a number of considerations and variables. In cases without dependent children, these include:
- The earning/income levels of each spouse
- The health of each spouse (physical/mental/emotional)
- Short or long-term income sources or benefits such as pensions
- Any applicable inheritances
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living that was established during the marriage
- The educational and occupational background and outlook of the spouses
- Assets that either spouse had prior to marriage
- Issues of marital misconduct or abuse
There is one important differentiation to be made when classifying income. Total income received without any deductions such as federal, state, and local taxes is gross income. When income is based on "take home pay," or the amount where deductions and taxes are taken out, it is defined as net income.
The following sample outlines the new formula used by Pennsylvania courts to calculate spousal support in cases where there are no dependent children that resulted from the marriage:
- Spouse A has net monthly income of $4,000. This is multiplied by 33% to arrive at $1,320.
- Spouse B has a net monthly income of $1,800. This is multiplied by 40% to arrive at $720.
- By this calculation, Spouse A exceeds the net monthly income of B by a difference of $600.
- $600 is the monthly spousal support amount.
Are There Other Types of Support?
If you have needs outside of the normal alimony or spousal support payments, you can request other types of support from the judge. You will need to go through the same procedure to prove that the support is needed.
- Child support: Provides financial support and medical coverage for a dependent child. Daycare expenses can be factored in as well.
- Medical coverage: You can request medical and hospital coverage for yourself, or request the portion not covered under your insurance is covered by your ex-spouse.
FAQs About Spousal Support
Q: Can the spouses reach an agreement without going to court?
A: Yes. One option is mediation, which can help you solve disagreements over spousal support, child support, property, and more. Both spouses should hire their own attorney to represent them in the process. Mediation is often more cost-effective than going to court, but it will only work if both spouses commit to the process and come to an agreement.
Q: Can a spouse go to jail for not paying spousal support?
A: No one can be put in jail just because they are in debt, but a person who owes support is ignoring a court order, so he or she can be “in contempt of court” and may go to jail for that reason. This enforcement tool is generally a last resort when all other efforts to collect spousal support have failed. If you are being charged with contempt of court, you have the right to a lawyer.
Q: How long do spouses have to be married to receive spousal support?
A: The length of a marriage will be considered, but being married for a certain amount of time does not guarantee anything. Typically, the longer the marriage, the more alimony will be ordered. However, there is no minimum length of time a spouse has to be married to receive alimony or spousal support.
Compassionate Pennsylvania Family Law Attorney
Attorney Sheryl R. Rentz has experience guiding Montgomery County residents who are going through difficult divorces. Divorce can be an emotional event, filled with uncertainty and anxiety, and complicated financial calculations make it harder. Having an experienced attorney to make sure you get spousal support can be the difference between starting over deeply in debt, or transitioning to a new life with the resources you need.
Take the first step by contacting our office at (866) 290-9292 for a free consultation. The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz will provide you with the representation that you deserve.
- Difference between Alimony and Spousal Support in Pennsylvania
- Facts on Spousal Support in Cases without Dependent Children
- Tips for Maintaining Financial Security During a Pennsylvania Divorce