Child & Spousal Support
Child support and spousal support are established and enforced through the Domestic Relations Section of the Common Pleas Court where your case resides. In order to establish and obtain a support order, you need to file a complaint with Domestic Relations. Under PA child support laws, parents and guardians are legally required to provide basic, essential support for their children until the age of 18, or until the child graduates from high school, whichever is later.
Spousal Support in PA
To obtain an order for spousal support, you must show that you are a financial dependent of your spouse. The court will consider other factors before awarding spousal support, particularly the spouse’s ability to pay. Spousal support is similar to alimony pendente lite (APL) in that is ends once the divorce is decreed. However, in some cases there are still economic dispositions pending after the divorce is granted. Typically, the spousal support is converted to APL until all economic issues are resolved.
The amount for spousal support and APL are normally derived from the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines, along with most child support orders.
Modifying Support Orders
To obtain a support modification, the petitioner must demonstrate that “material and substantial changes” in circumstances occurred which directly affect the established payment amount. A local child support attorney familiar with the Court will be your best avenue toward a support modification in either direction.
Alimony in PA
Alimony in Pennsylvania may be ordered by a judge as a part of the divorce/marriage settlement. There are 3 different reasons alimony can be awarded:
- Rehabilitation – Rehabilitation alimony is granted when one of the spouses needs time after divorcing to acquire the employment skills necessary in order to support him or herself.
- Compensatory – The doctrine of equitable compensation is a method whereby courts consider the fair and equitable compensation to a spouse who has contributed to the education and/or training of the other spouse. Compensatory alimony can be a vehicle when there are insufficient assets available to provide economic justice to the contributing spouse.
- Permanent – Permanent alimony in PA is ordered on a lifelong basis to provide income to a spouse who will always be unable to support him/herself after divorce.
Cases of permanent alimony normally arise when the requesting spouse has a physical or mental disability that is irreversible. Other factors evaluated in determining if and when alimony should be granted are:
- Earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
- Sources of income of the parties.
- Expected assets and inheritances of the parties.
- Duration of the marriage.
- Liabilities and/or expected liabilities of the spouses.
Alimony in PA usually terminates when either of 3 conditions are found. They are: cohabitation, death, or remarriage.
If you are dealing with issues regarding PA alimony laws, you should contact a qualified alimony attorney who can help you understand Pennsylvania’s complex alimony laws and rules that may be pertinent to your divorce case.
Contact us for a FREE consultation to find out how we can assist you with your spousal support or child support issue in Westmoreland, Washington, Indiana, Butler, Beaver, Blair, Allegheny and Cambria Counties.