There is no magic formula or calculator used for determining the amount or duration of alimony. Pennsylvania courts rely on a list of factors in making these decisions. Some of the factors that are considered are the length of the marriage, the relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties, the age and physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties, marital misconduct of the parties, and the ability of the spouse seeking alimony to support themselves. 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3701.
A party who has been married to their spouse for 20 years, who has limited education and work experience, is likely to be awarded higher alimony payments for a longer period of time than a fairly young spouse of a short marital relationship who has a PhD. In other cases, a cheating spouse who is substantially responsible for the breakdown of the marriage might be on the hook for alimony payments to the injured spouse, or vice versa, the cheating spouse could be denied alimony payments or have payments significantly reduced due to such conduct. A relatively short marriage might not yield alimony payments at all. Conversely, courts have awarded indefinite alimony to a spouse suffering from a severe disability. Courts will review the totality of the couple’s circumstances and make awards of alimony as they see fit.
What Terminates Alimony
Finally, when alimony is court-ordered, as opposed to settled on by agreement of the parties, alimony will be terminated upon the receiving spouse’s “cohabitation” or remarriage. Cohabitation is defined by Pennsylvania case law and generally refers to “two persons of the opposite sex resid[ing] together in the manner of husband and wife, mutually assuming those rights and duties usually attendant upon the marriage relationship.” Lobaugh v. Lobaugh, 753 A.2d 834. Generally, if a private property settlement is silent as to a spouse’s future cohabitation or remarriage, courts will not modify alimony under such a change in circumstances. Woodings v. Woodings, 411 Pa.Super. 406.
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