Support numbers are based on each party's net income available for support or, in some cases, earning capacity. The court uses formulas with those numbers at their base, so we find it crucially important to come up with a true analysis of these figures. If necessary, in complex cases we bring in experts, including forensic accountants and other litigation support professionals, such as vocational experts, to determine accurate net income on both sides.
We also identify the economic needs of the parties so that we can effectively determine what they need to keep the bills paid and maintain some of their standard of living. We represent both women and men from moderate income levels through high net worth individuals. We're also very familiar with support issues for business owners going through divorce and for self-employed individuals.
Spousal support begins after you separate and before the divorce complaint is filed. Once the complaint is filed the type of support given is known as Alimony Pendente Lite (APL), commonly called “alimony pending litigation.” One of the main differences between spousal support and APL is that the party paying the spousal support can raise an entitlement defense and challenge the need to pay support, but cannot raise a defense against APL. The spousal support or APL will be paid through the entrance of a divorce decree (and sometimes beyond) if an appeal is filed or certain economic circumstances warrant.
The court takes a number of factors into account when determining alimony, including the length of the marriage, the ages of both parties, their work history, their health and ability to work. Alimony can be modified, but in order to do so you have to prove a substantial change in circumstances for at least one of the parties.
In determining child support, the court begins with the net monthly income of both parties. Then the court applies the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines based on the total of those incomes and the number of children in the family. There are deviation factors possible in child support calculations and we go over these carefully with our clients. We're very familiar with the guidelines and variations and often our calculations come within dollars of the figure the court will ultimately determine. Of course, our goal is to resolve the case without the need for a hearing.
If you have questions to related areas, such as the ones below, visit our Divorce Resources page.