Is There a Time Limit on Alimony in Pennsylvania?

When a couple divorces in Pennsylvania, one of the most challenging aspects of the process is the determination of whether and how much financial support the higher-earning spouse will pay to the lower-earning spouse, and how long that support arrangements will last. Alimony is generally broken into two separate segments: alimony pendente lite, which refers to the regular payment of support while the divorce is pending, and full alimony, which is established for a specified period of time.

Alimony pendente lite is generally established as a payment that expires and converts to alimony at the time that a final divorce decree is registered. It is meant to provide expenses for the lower-earning spouse so that they can pay for both their living expenses and their legal expenses while they are waiting for a final resolution of other outstanding issues in the divorce, including equitable distribution of assets and child support if there are children in the marriage. Since the divorce process in Pennsylvania generally takes about 24 months, it is important that alimony pendente lite is established at a level that will provide a reasonable amount for the receiving spouse to be able to pay their bills. It should be noted that there are some circumstances where the period of time for alimony pendente lite can be limited. These include situations where the marriage was of a particularly short duration or if the lower-earning spouse is purposely dragging the proceedings out in a transparent attempt to prolong the time in which they receive payments.

Part of finalizing the divorce will involve determining both the amount of alimony that will be paid after the divorce is final and for how long the payments will be made. Though there is no set time limit or requirement, the court will generally make a determination on alimony based on how long the marriage lasted, the total value of marital assets, how those assets are divided and whether the spouse receiving alimony has their own, separate assets. The issue is extremely dependent upon the individual court and judge, as well as the factors involved in the case.  In most cases, a fixed period of time will be determined, and the amount of time that alimony pendente lite has been paid may factor into the decision. One way or another, if the spouse receiving alimony begins cohabiting then alimony will be ended immediately.

If you need assistance with negotiating an alimony agreement or need any other help with effecting a divorce, we can help. Contact us today to set up a convenient time for a consultation.