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How long do Pennsylvania alimony payments last?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Family Law

Spouses generally agree to share their lives and their resources. By working together to maintain one home, they can often enjoy a much higher standard of living than single people experience. For example, they can likely afford a bigger home because they combine their resources. They may also have an easier time saving for retirement because they can pool their resources and share their expenses.

Although it is common for both spouses to work, one might focus more on the family while the other focuses more on their career. Spouses who stay home or who de-prioritize their careers may worry about supporting themselves after a divorce. Alimony payments made by a higher-earning spouse to a lower-earning spouse can help those concerned about their finances after a divorce.

Of course, alimony payments can be a source of financial stress for the paying party. Alimony requests can easily cause conflict. How long does alimony typically last after a Pennsylvania divorce?

Alimony duration depends on marital circumstances

While some states have a clear formula based on marriage length and other factors for determining how long alimony lasts, Pennsylvania has a less formulaic approach. Judges look at the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the income of both spouses and several other key factors took it off to determine how much alimony they should pay and how long those payments should last.

Frequently, alimony payments are temporary while someone pursues an education or re-enters the workforce to redevelop their professional skills. Occasionally, in scenarios where there are health challenges or special needs children, the courts may award longer-term alimony to a dependent spouse or a caregiver who has given up their professional ambitions to provide for a child who cannot live independently.

Spouses do have the option of setting their own terms for alimony, but if they litigate, there is little certainty regarding the duration of the alimony payments.

Alimony can end early in some cases

Changes to an alimony order might become necessary. If the spouse paying alimony suffers a major financial setback, they may be able to request the early termination of their alimony responsibilities. Other times, changes to the circumstances of the recipient spouse may warrant an alimony modification. For example, if someone remarries or begins living with a new romantic partner, the party paying could ask to terminate alimony payments early.  If the recipient spouse increases their income through career success, that might also warrant the reduction or termination of their alimony in response to their good fortune.

Understanding the rules that apply to Pennsylvania alimony payments may help people that realistic expectations when handling financial support disagreements.