One of the persistent myths in divorce cases heard in Pennsylvania is that alimony is an automatic provision of any divorce decree – in other words, someone is always going to end up paying alimony. The alimony that Mechanicsburg citizens end up paying, however, is determined by two simple factors: The need of one spouse and the ability to pay of the other spouse. Nothing is automatic; if neither spouse has need, then alimony will not be ordered. If neither spouse is able to pay, then unlike child support – which can and is ordered even when parents claim hardship, because the best interests of the child are the determining factor – alimony may not be factored into the divorce decree at all.
And of course, when a divorce is amicable and negotiated, alimony becomes a personal decision and not the purview of the courts at all. In these cases, spouses can decide that one is more in need than the other and make arrangements accordingly, just as they can decide anything else to do with the separation, from custody to property division.
The idea that alimony in Mechanicsburg is an automatic ruling comes largely from fiction and entertainment, which finds alimony to be a dramatic concept that adds financial weight to a divorce (as if divorce needs any more complicating financial factors).
If you’re entering into a divorce proceeding and worry that alimony might be ordered, consult with your attorney as early in the process as possible and compile the data you need to either demonstrate an inability to pay or a lack of need on the part of your spouse. Keep in mind that this won’t affect any decisions regarding child support, which is a completely separate consideration. The more information you bring to court, the better your chances of a good alimony outcome.
Law Offices of Peter J. Russo, P.C.
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Camp Hill, PA 17011
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