By Alexandra Junkin
Three different types of spousal support exist in Pennsylvania: spousal support, alimony pendente lite, and alimony. When examining these types of support, the spouse with a lower income is often referred to as the “dependent” spouse.
Spousal support is available only for parties who are separated but have not yet filed for divorce. After a divorce complaint has been filed a dependent spouse may receive a type of support known as alimony pendente lite.
The dependent party may continue to receive alimony pendente lite until the parties’ divorce decree has been entered by the court. Unlike spousal support, alimony pendente lite will only be granted to a dependent spouse after a complaint for divorce has been filed with the court. After the parties divorce decree has been filed, a dependent spouse may be entitled to alimony as part of the equitable distribution of the parties’ assets and debts.
The purpose of spousal support and alimony pendente lite is to insure that the dependent spouse can maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the parties’ marriage. Alimony pendente lite also serves to place the parties on an “equal footing” financially during the pendency of a divorce so that the dependent spouse has the financial resources necessary to be adequately represented in court as well as to afford the legal costs associated with a divorce proceeding.
While the amount of spousal support and alimony pendente lite awarded are both calculated using the same mathematical formula, there are several distinctions between these types of support. The first difference is when these types of support can be awarded. Another critical difference is that there is no defense to alimony pendente lite.
A request for spousal support can be defeated by proving that the dependent spouse is not entitled to spousal support because they committed serious acts of marital misconduct. Therefore, a dependent spouse who causes the breakdown of a marriage through their bad acts is not entitled to receive order for spousal support.
To the contrary, there is no such entitlement defense to alimony pendente lite. A dependent spouse is entitled to an award of alimony pendente lite until, and unless, they purposefully stall the divorce proceedings in an attempt to prolong a support order or a decree in divorce has been entered by the court. A dependent spouse is entitled to an award of alimony pendente lite regardless of any marital misconduct that they may have committed.
If you have any questions relating to the different types of spousal support in Pennsylvania, contact the family law attorneys at Raffaele Puppio. Our experience in dealing with complex and ever-changing family law situations make Raffaele Puppio the attorneys of choice for negotiating your spousal support and alimony in Pennsylvania.
Alexandra Junkin represents clients in all family law matters, including divorce, child custody, child and spousal support, and Protection from Abuse. She graduated from The George Washington University in 2013 with a major in Archaeology and a minor in Criminal Justice. She received her Juris Doctorate and the Leonard Levin Memorial Award from Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law.