While many people use the terms “spousal support” and “alimony” interchangeably, each term has a different legal definition in Pennsylvania. If you’re filing for divorce, it’s important to know the difference so you can request the right type of support. Spousal support and alimony can help you support yourself if you were financially dependent on your spouse.
What’s the difference between alimony and spousal support?
If you haven’t officially filed for divorce, you can request spousal support. This is compensation for people who have separated from their spouses but haven’t started the divorce process. A judge might deny spousal support if they have reason to believe that you were at fault for the separation. Your family law attorney could tell you if you qualify for alimony or not.
According to Pennsylvania law, your former spouse might have to pay alimony after your divorce is over. Alimony helps you support yourself as you adjust to independent living. A judge decides how much alimony your former spouse will have to pay and how long they’ll have to pay it.
Finally, you can request alimony pendente lite during the divorce trial. If you move out before the divorce is over, you’ll have to figure out how to support yourself and pay for legal expenses. A judge might rule that your estranged spouse has to pay alimony pendente lite until the divorce is over. The judge will look at several factors to determine how much your spouse has to pay.
How can you get alimony or spousal support?
Typically, you’ll have to request alimony or spousal support during the divorce process. You’ll have to show the judge that you need support to live independently and pay for your legal bills. If you qualify, the judge might order your estranged spouse to pay support for a limited amount of time.