Spousal Support Attorneys 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 Pendente Lite
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 Rosen Family Law Group, we have nearly 20 years 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 help.