Spousal Support, Alimony, Alimony P.L.
In Chester County, the procedure for obtaining spousal support can be a multi-step process similar to the procedure for obtaining child support. As in child support matters, a claim for spousal support commences with the filing of a Complaint for support with the Domestic Relations Office of Chester County. As in child support cases, spousal support orders are retroactive to the date of filing with the Domestic Relations Office.
At the time of filing, a support conference will be scheduled with a Conference Officer who may or may not recommend the immediate entry of a temporary order for spousal support. If the paying spouse opposes the entry of a temporary order at the conference level, the order for spousal support may be delayed until the matter is heard by a Master who will conduct a full evidentiary hearing. However, if you are the spouse seeking support, an experienced Chester County family lawyer can help position your case so that a temporary order will be entered at the initial conference.
Additionally, recent changes to the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines have gone into effect. It is very important to consult with a Chester County family lawyer to determine how these changes will impact your particular situation.
There are numerous instances in which a spouse will not be entitled to receive spousal support. In those cases, a family lawyer may recommend that you pursue a claim for alimony pendente lite, often referred to as APL. Such a claim may sidestep many of the issues that preclude entitlement to spousal support. Instead, a claim for APL focuses on the reasonable financial needs of the receiving spouse and the amount of money needed to bridge the gap between earnings or earning capacity and those reasonable financial needs.
Once all of the issues involving equitable distribution of the parties’ marital property have been resolved and a final divorce decree is entered, any order for spousal support will terminate. In place of support, the Court may award alimony to a spouse who is unable to meet his or her reasonable needs. While alimony may be denied to a spouse who has committed an act that would constitute a fault-based ground for divorce, a denial is not always the inevitable result of such conduct.
In determining whether and how much alimony should be awarded, the court will consider the parties’ relative incomes as well as the assets awarded through the equitable distribution order. Typical situations in which alimony may be awarded include instances in which there is a significant difference in the income and earning capacities of the parties, when there was a long-term marriage, when a spouse suffers from a mental or physical disability, and when there are minor children who are not yet of school age.
The attorneys at Valocchi & Fischer are experienced in handling all aspects of Chester County spousal support and alimony cases. We have represented clients in complex support cases involving high incomes and hidden incomes.
Call Jeffrey J. Valocchi or Robert Teti at the law offices of Valocchi and Fischer to schedule an appointment. If you are the spouse seeking support, you should act quickly, as the effective date of any support award will typically be the date on which the support Complaint is filed.
Call Diane at 610.269.0900 to schedule an appointment.