The terms alimony and spousal support are often used interchangeably for the financial payments a person makes to their ex-partner pursuant to divorce. However, in Pennsylvania these two terms distinguish payments based on the stage of divorce individuals have reached. This informational post does not provide legal guidance but does offer a brief explanation of the ways financial support can be classified before, during, and after Pennsylvania divorce proceedings.

Phase 1: Separation in preparation for divorce

When the parties to a married couple choose to end their marriage, they may first separate and begin living apart as they prepare to divorce. During this phase a nonworking party may struggle to make financial ends meet and may require money from their soon-to-be ex to stay afloat. Payments made during this divorce phase is called spousal support and it can be ordered by a court.

Phase 2: Pending divorce decree

The divorce process can take months to resolve and when all of the evidence and arguments have been made, it may still take time for a court to issue its final divorce decree. While a divorce is pending, a court may order financial support between spouses in the form of a pendente lite order. This form of support is interim and is replaced by an order for alimony when the divorce is finalized.

Phase 3: Completion of divorce

As the divorce process wraps up, a financially dependent party may still require financial assistance to survive as a single person. For the post-divorce phase of their marital termination, they may receive financial support in the form of alimony. Alimony awards are based on many factors, such as the length of the parties’ marriage, the assets of the parties, the earning capacities of the parties, and the ages and physical conditions of the parties.

The financial aspects of a Pennsylvania divorce can be complex and worrisome for parties. There is no reason for individuals to face these challenges on their own. Dedicated family law and divorce attorneys can support their clients with strong representation and compassionate guidance as they work to end their marriages.