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Can I Modify Spousal Support in Pennsylvania?

02 Sep 2022, by Barrett Lawlis in Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce
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Written by Timothy Czekaj

After a divorce, spousal support, also called “alimony” or “maintenance,” is money paid to one spouse by the other person when the couple decides to end their marriage. The amount of spousal support can be established in many ways. In some cases, that amount is not able to be modified.

However, if certain circumstances arise, spousal support can be modified in Pennsylvania.

Why Would Spousal Support Need to be Modified?

Pursuant to Pennsylvania law (23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3701), a modification of a spousal support order can be made upon a chance in circumstances of either party. The change in circumstances must be substantial and continuing in nature. In such a case, alimony may be modified, suspended, terminated, or reinstituted if it was terminated in a prior order.

Parties may also voluntarily enter into an agreement to modify spousal support. If an agreement is approved by the court, then it becomes a court order.

Factors Considered When Modifying a Spousal Support in Pennsylvania

Factors that the court will consider when establishing or modifying spousal support include:

  • Earnings and earning capacities of both parties
  • Age, physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties
  • Sources of income for both parties
  • Expectancies and inheritances
  • Contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party
  • Care of a minor child by one or both parties
  • Standard of living established by the parties during the marriage
  • Education of the parties and need to acquire education and training
  • Assets and liabilities of both parties
  • Property brought to the marriage
  • Contribution of a spouse as a homemaker
  • Needs of both parties
  • Marital misconduct (including abuse)
  • Tax ramifications on the potential alimony award
  • Property rights and reasonable needs of the parties
  • Ability of both parties to self-support through appropriate employment

Duration of Spousal Support

A court will determine the length of time that alimony must be paid. The duration may be definite with a specific end date or situation that would trigger the end of payments. Or spousal support may be paid indefinitely. Under Pennsylvania law, the court will consider a period that is “reasonable under the circumstances.”

In many cases, spousal support is awarded until a lower earning or nonearning spouse can obtain a job that supports their needs. They may need to obtain education or training to get such a career. However, it is also common for spousal support to end if the spouse being paid gets remarried. Spousal support will also end upon the death of the payor.

What Needs to be Done to Change Support in PA?

There are two ways to receive a change of spousal support, depending on whether you receive welfare benefits. If you do, your county may complete the process for you. If not, then you will have to request a modification. It’s best to work with a spousal support lawyer to help you file the necessary documents on your behalf.

Spousal Support Modification for Welfare Recipients

Some counties automatically review certain spousal support cases every three years. The county does this for people who receive welfare benefits. The modification review includes an assessment of the amount of spousal support as well as an adjustment of medical coverage.

Non-Welfare Clients Seeking Modification of Support

People who do not receive welfare must file a Petition for Modification of an Existing Support Order. You must also file an Income and Expense Statement and request a conference or hearing for the court to hear your case.

What You Need for a Spousal Support Modification Hearing

When you appear in court to get your spousal support modified, you may have to present evidence that that has been a significant change in circumstances. That may include showing new information about income and expenses. You may also have to discuss your financial needs. Your attorney can help you gather all of the evidence you need to support your case.

Turn to Czekaj Law, LLC to Discuss Your Options

Czekaj Law, LLC can help you reach a fair divorce agreement modification with your ex-spouse. If they refuse to negotiate, then we can also help you achieve a modification in court. Family law involves many intricacies, and an alimony attorney will give you the advantage of having someone on your side to protect your rights.

If your circumstances have significantly changed since your alimony order was established, you should seek modification. Call Czekaj Law, LLC today at 717-275-9770 or use our online contact form to reach out.

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