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Family Law - Spousal Support


In Pennsylvania, support may be awarded to the spouse who earns less money or has a lower earning capacity than the other spouse. The three different types of support that may be awarded to a spouse are called Spousal Support, Alimony Pendente Lite (also called APL) and Alimony.

Spousal Support

There are two significant differences between Spousal Support and Alimony Pendente Lite(APL). First, APL may be awarded only after a divorce action has been initiated. On the other hand, Spousal Support may be awarded to a spouse prior to the commencement of a divorce action if the parties are separated. Additionally, there are essentially no defenses to a claim for APL, while a Spousal Support claim may be defeated by an entitlement defense. An entitlement defense may be found to exist if the party seeking support has committed an act which would be grounds for divorce, such as infidelity, abandonment or cruelty.

Amount of Spousal Support

Spousal support and APL are calculated using Pennsylvania support guidelines.


The term, alimony, always refers to post-divorce payments. Unlike spousal support and APL, there are no guidelines to determine the amount of alimony in Pennsylvania. Instead, there is a list of seventeen subjective criteria that the courts must consider in determining the amount of alimony to be paid. In determining the amount, or whether alimony is even to be paid, every case is different and the facts are examined with particular scrutiny.


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