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Pennsylvania Alimony and Modification Orders

Your Options When a Change in Income Makes it Hard to Pay Spousal Support

Alimony in Pennsylvania is calculated based on a list of 17 spousal support criteria. These criteria are based on each spouse’s income during the marriage and at the time of the divorce. But, circumstances can change. Can alimony orders be modified if one spouse’s income changes significantly?

The Purpose of Alimony

The primary purpose of alimony in Pennsylvania is to allow the lower income spouse to meet reasonable financial needs and enjoy a standard of living that is comparable to the standard that existed during the marriage. The amount of support awarded is based each spouse’s income and standard of living during the marriage. The court also considers the following factors:

  1. The standard of living during the marriage
  2. Each spouse’s income and earning capacity
  3. The education of each spouse and how much education would be needed for the lower income spouse to obtain sufficient employment
  4. Each spouse’s ability to be self-supporting
  5. Each spouse’s available sources of income, including retirement benefits and insurance
  6. The assets and debts of each spouse
  7. Each spouse’s financial needs
  8. Each spouse’s age and physical, mental and emotional health
  9. The length of the marriage
  10. The separate property that each spouse brought into the marriage
  11. Any inheritances or expected inheritances
  12. Each spouse’s contribution to the other spouse’s education and career
  13. A spouse’s contribution to the marriage and family as a homemaker
  14. Each spouse’s contribution to the care of minor children
  15. Marital misconduct, abuse, and infidelity
  16. The effect of alimony of each spouse’s taxes
  17. Whether the spouse asking for alimony has enough property to meet financial needs

Paying PA Alimony When a Your Income Changes

If you lose your job or become disabled, your ability to pay alimony is affected. If paying alimony is causing financial hardship, you can request a modification of the alimony order. Common reasons for alimony modification include:

  • Increase in the cost of living due to inflation
  • Involuntary loss of income due to layoffs or job loss
  • Disability
  • Medical emergency
  • Retirement

You may also request a modification of the alimony agreement if your ex-spouse remarries, is living with a romantic partner, or has a significant increase in income and no longer needs your support.

Do You Need to Modify Your Child Support Order?

You shouldn’t struggle to pay spousal support. If you need to modify your child support order contact an attorney in your area or learn how your child support order can be modified to fit your current circumstances.


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Thomas Petrelli, is the founder and named partner at the Family Law firm of Petrelli Previtera, LLC, (Previously Petrelli Law, P.C.) The firm provides a unique and dependable approach to family law. The firm's commitment to exploring and building the client/lawyer relationship to ensure that all your needs are met. More by this author at http://feeds.feedburner.com/PetrelliPreviteraLlc 1845 Walnut Street, 19th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103 | (215) 523-6900 227 Laurel Road, Suite 100, Voorhees, NJ 08043 | (201) 655-7204 180 N. Stetson Street, Suite 3500, Chicago, IL 60601 | (312) 252-2085 516 DeKalb Street, Suite C, Norristown, PA 19401 | (610) 924-2870 203 W Chestnut St, Suite 204, West Chester, PA 19380 | (610) 431-4012

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