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What’s the difference between spousal support and alimony?

On Behalf of | Nov 26, 2023 | Divorce |

Many married couples have vastly different income levels. One spouse may have sidelined their career after having children to support the family. Even without children, one spouse may focus more on supporting the family through work while the other prioritizes handling practical household matters.

Having a stay-at-home parent or spouse can significantly improve someone’s career prospects. An individual who is supported in this way doesn’t have to manage daily life in the same way that their peers do, which can allow them to focus more completely on their professional ambitions. Unfortunately, the spouse who focuses less on their career will be at a disadvantage should the couple separate.

The law in Pennsylvania permits a judge to award one spouse financial support provided by the other. In fact, Pennsylvania judges can order both alimony and spousal support. What is the difference between alimony and spousal support during a Pennsylvania divorce?

Spousal support occurs prior to divorce

When spouses talk about living separately, there will often be an assortment of expenses to consider. Maintaining two living spaces is significantly more expensive than sharing a home. A dependent spouse may not have the necessary income to cover rent and utilities on their own.

Spousal support orders allow one spouse to rely on income provided by the other until the courts finalize their divorce. It is a form of temporary financial support that can help someone who made career sacrifices for the family. Spousal support typically ends when the courts grant a divorce, as there is no longer a spousal relationship between the two individuals.

Alimony involves payments after divorce

Someone awarded alimony in a Pennsylvania divorce can count on receiving basic financial support for a set amount of time. Alimony orders go into effect after divorce and persist for a specific number of months.

Spouses can either negotiate their own alimony arrangements or litigate and ask that a judge determine how long the payments last and how much they are. Many people trying to regain their independence during and after a divorce will require both short-term spousal support and long-term alimony payments to become truly financially independent.

Learning about the different forms of support available after a Pennsylvania divorce may help people feel more confident about changing their circumstances.