Alimony is support payments made from one spouse to the other spouse after the entry of the Divorce Decree. If an award of alimony is to be entered, it must be entered prior to the Divorce Decree being signed by the Judge. Therefore, one party usually raises a claim for alimony when they file or answer the Divorce Complaint.
In determining if an award of alimony is appropriate, as well as the length of the award and the monthly amount, the court considers a list of factors which are in the Divorce Code. The factors are as follows:
• The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
• The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
• The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
• The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
• The duration of the marriage.
• The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
• The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
• The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
• The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.
• The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
• The property brought to the marriage by either party.
• The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
• The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct of either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony, except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party.
• Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 (relating to property rights), to provide for the party's reasonable needs.
• Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.
While the court must consider all factors, it can weigh each factor differently. Alimony is intended as a secondary remedy if, in the court’s opinion, an equitable resolution cannot be reached through equitable distribution alone. If alimony is awarded, the court will determine how many years the alimony will be paid and the monthly alimony amount. Alimony is taxable to the recipient and tax deductible to the payor. This is because alimony is treated as an income stream to the recipient.