Get The Support You Deserve.
There are three basic forms of support in Pennsylvania: child support, spousal support, and alimony pendente lite (APL).
Pennsylvania has established child support guidelines which are based mainly upon the earning capacities of the parties. "Earning capacity" does not always equal the amount of money a party is actually making. Rather, it refers to a party's earning potential. Therefore, the age old statement "I'll just quit my job and not pay anything" does not work well in actual practice. The court can and will place a party in jail for failing to reasonably deal with a child support obligation.
The determination of earning capacity is often complicated by the self-employed, those working in cash industries, and those not working for whatever reason. As we all know, in the real world, a tax return does not always reflect a party's true income. Many individuals seem to have cash everywhere except for listed on their tax returns.
Factors other than earning capacity are relevant to child support awards. For example, costs relating to daycare, education, and unreimbursed medical expenses can cause drastic fluctuations.
Typically, initial child support determinations are made by county domestic relations caseworkers. These caseworkers recommend support orders to the court after conducting conferences with the parties. If not satisfied, either party may then request a more formal determination by a support master or the court.
Whether you wish to file for support or have been sued for support, it is a mistake to go ahead unrepresented. Getting your support order right the first time can mean the difference between thousands of dollars. Support litigation is not overly time consuming and, therefore, legal representation is usually very affordable.
Spousal support is usually available to a separated spouse that has a lower earning capacity than his or her counterpart regardless of whether or not children are involved. "Earning capacity" is described above. Spousal support provides fast cash assistance to a lower income spouse.
Spousal support awards are determined by a different formula than child support awards. A party's child support order, whether payer or payee, will play into a spousal support calculation.
Spousal support orders can do more than assist a lower income spouse with cash. A party can often guarantee their medical coverage provided by the other spouse to continue pending final divorce.
Like other support litigation, spousal support litigation is not overly time consuming and, therefore, legal representation is usually very affordable. It takes attorneys years to learn the nuances of support litigation. Why take the risk? Go in with an experienced attorney and give yourself the ability to make informed decisions.
Alimony pendente lite (APL)
Alimony pendente lite (APL) is similar to spousal support. It is based upon the same calculations and is available to a separated spouse with lower income than his / her counterpart and APL orders can also direct parties to maintain medical insurance on each spouse pending final divorce. The main difference is that there are fewer factual situations that will disqualify a party from receiving APL.
Parties can be disqualified from receiving spousal support if they voluntarily leave the marital residence and / or cohabitate with another person. In these situations our legislature and courts have recognized that the lower income spouse still should be on equal cash terms to litigate their divorce issues.
There are procedural issues that make filing for APL more complicated than spousal support. We are involved in APL representation on a regular basis.
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