Spousal Support Attorney in Pittsburgh
Support Payments Before and During a Divorce
There are two forms of support payments available to a spouse in Pennsylvania before a
divorce is finalized: spousal support and alimony
pendente lite (which is also referred to as APL). Support that is paid after a divorce
is known as
alimony, which operates on entirely different principles from pre-divorce support.
Spousal support and APL, on the other hand, are fairly similar. The spouse
with a lower income or lower earning capacity can receive only spousal
support or APL, not both. If the receiving spouse is also collecting child
support payments, then their spousal support would be reduced by about
25 percent. In other cases, one spouse could be getting spousal support
or APL, while at the same time they are paying
child support to the other spouse.
What is the difference between spousal support and APL? Spousal support
is paid before either party actually files for a divorce. Alimony
pendente lite literally means "alimony pending the litigation"; this support
only kicks in when the divorce papers have been filed. Usually speaking,
spousal support cannot be ordered if both spouses live in the same household,
not unless one spouse refuses to pay any of the household's costs.
The spouse paying support could object to making these payments on the
grounds that the other spouse was the one considered at fault in a fault-based
divorce. This defense is rarely successful, however. Since APL is meant
to enable both spouses to afford going through the divorce, it will not
matter if the spouse receiving APL committed an action that was the basis
of a fault-based divorce.
How to Calculate Spousal Support and Alimony
Generally speaking, the amount of spousal support or APL will be a percentage
of the difference between each spouse's net monthly income, or a percentage
of the difference between each spouse's earning capacity. To arrive
at a spouse's net monthly income, one deducts certain expenses (such
as child support and taxes) from his or her gross income. Bonuses and
overtime are often calculated as a part of gross income. If on the other
hand, support payments are based off of a percentage of the difference
between earning capacities, matters can become more complicated or contentious.
When there is child support, the fixed percentage for spousal support or
APL is 30% of the difference between incomes or earning capacities. Cases
with no child support will have spousal support or APL set at 40% of the
difference. There could be other matters besides child support that factor
into this calculation, however, such as special expenses, childcare costs,
or mortgage deviation.
These support payments can last indefinitely, but if both spouses were
married only a short time, then the court could decide to limit both the
amount and extent of these payments. Usually speaking though, APL lasts
as long as the divorce does, giving the receiving spouse a reason to delay
the process, and the paying spouse a reason to finalize the divorce quickly.
Taxes and Spousal Support in Pennsylvania
Under federal law, the spouse who is paying spousal support or APL can
deduct these payments from their income for tax purposes. The spouse receiving
support will have this taxed as part of their income. If child support
is also part of the picture, then both child and spousal support may be
lumped together as income or a deduction. However, in some Pennsylvania
counties, spousal support and child support may be given as separate orders
instead of being unallocated.
If the spouse who is paying spousal support has to pay more to cover mortgage,
health insurance, or certain medical bills, then these extra payments
could be income under federal tax statutes. When there is an unallocated
order, both spouses should seek the expertise of a tax advisor.
Health Insurance in a Support Order
Health insurance coverage is often a component of any support order. The
spousal support claim can deal with matters such as which party has to
provide this coverage for the other spouse or any children, and if the
insured party should receive some reimbursement for certain medical expenses.
In general, a spouse who has health insurance will be told to maintain
this coverage, and he or she will probably get a discount for doing so.
Get the Legal Counsel You Need from a Divorce Lawyer
Family law is an area of the legal field that is constantly changing, one
that requires the guidance of a legal expert. If you are facing a divorce
or any matter of family law, then it is advisable that you consult with
a divorce attorney in Pittsburgh as quickly as possible.
At the Law offices of Avram Y. Rosen, we have more than a decade of experience
helping families navigate such legal matters as spousal support and APL,
even in complex divorce cases. A Pittsburgh family lawyer from our firm
is qualified to help you with assessing your earning capacity or calculating
your income. This includes calculating income from a business, from a
professional practice, or from being self-employed. We also have the experience
to assist you if your case involves mortgage deviation, special expenses,
or military pay. As it is in your best interests to work with an attorney
as soon as possible, do not hesitate to contact our firm today to learn
how we may be able to assist you and your family.