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Why Do I Have to Pay Support to My Spouse?

Luff Strenfel LLP April 9, 2018

Spousal Support vs. Alimony Pendente Lite – the Basics

If you are separated from your spouse, or going through a divorce in Pennsylvania, you may be confused when it comes to the concept of spousal support and alimony pendente lite. Let me explain some of the basic differences between them in order to clarify the concepts.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is based on the nature of the relationship, i.e. marriage, and the duty to support the dependent spouse arises from that relationship. The support amount is determined by statute, and that amount is considered to be the minimal amount owed. Spousal support will terminate upon divorce, or when the recipient commits certain acts that would constitute grounds for a fault divorce. Spousal support can’t be sought when the party asking for support is still co-habiting with the other spouse because it suggests that the one spouse is paying the other spouse’s basic needs. And, traditionally, spousal support was granted in order to prevent the dependent spouse from becoming a ward of the state.

Alimony Pendente Lite (APL)

Alimony pendente lite literally is money that is paid to the dependent spouse during the pendency of a divorce. And this brings us to a major distinction between spousal support and “APL” – spousal support does not require that a divorce proceeding be pending. APL does require that a divorce be pending. Similar to spousal support, the APL amount is determined by reference to Pennsylvania statute. APL is intended to provide a dependent spouse with the economic ability to prosecute or defend a divorce action, which is why a divorce action must be pending to receive APL. Also, marital misconduct is not a defense to APL.

It should also be noted that a party can receive either spousal support or alimony pendente lite – not both.

What to Do?

If you have questions about types of support, how they get calculated, why you have to pay it or just a question in general about your divorce you need to contact an attorney. We can help at LS Law Firm, our consultations our free. If you are looking to file for divorce and have questions call us today.