alimonyIn the state of Pennsylvania, alimony is a needs-based payment that is provided by one spouse to another after a divorce is final. Its intention is to allow a financially disadvantaged (or less advantaged) spouse to continue to live in a lifestyle similar to what they had been enjoying during the marriage, particularly where one spouse earns significantly more than the other. Alimony is frequently provided when a marriage has been in place for a long time and one partner stayed home to raise children, or whose income was substantially less. The goal is to provide a bridge to parity, or at a minimum, self-sufficiency.

Alimony is not meant to be a permanent situation: it is understood that when circumstances change, so will its terms. Alimony payments can be reduced, increased, or eliminated entirely based on challenges, with the conditions leading to challenges including:

  • Either ex-spouse getting a new job, promotion, demotion, cut in pay or increase in pay
  • Either ex-spouse losing their job
  • Either ex-spouse having another child
  • Either ex-spouse inheriting money or in some other way coming into a significant amount of money, i.e. winning the lottery or receiving a substantial monetary gift
  • Remarriage of either ex-spouse
  • Illness, injury or disability (or recovery) of either ex-spouse
  • Either ex-spouse graduating from college or other school
  • Either ex-spouse being convicted of a crime
  • Either ex-spouse being found liable in a lawsuit
  • Either ex-spouse filing for bankruptcy

It is important that both parties to an alimony agreement understand the difference between a change in circumstances and a change that is “material and substantial.” The court is not likely to consider adjustments to alimony for insignificant changes such as a relocation that does not change the financial situation, one ex-spouse starting to date, nor is it going to respond to ex-spouses seeking a challenge to alimony based on an argument about lifestyle or how the party receiving alimony is spending the money that they receive.

If you believe that it is appropriate to challenge the current conditions of your alimony agreement, it is essential that you continue to make your payments throughout the process of investigating filing for a change and while your petition for a change is being considered. For legal guidance in seeking a change to your current alimony agreement, contact Reinherz Law today to set up a time to discuss your situation.

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