Pennsylvania Divorce APL Law

By Beverly Bird

The law is full of legal terms, one of which is "pendente lite." This phrase refers to a circumstance or order that lasts only as long as a lawsuit remains open and unresolved. When you add the word alimony to pendente lite, it means a form of spousal support payable until a divorce is final. "APL" stands for "alimony pendente lite" in Pennsylvania, and the state has its own rules regarding it.

The law is full of legal terms, one of which is "pendente lite." This phrase refers to a circumstance or order that lasts only as long as a lawsuit remains open and unresolved. When you add the word alimony to pendente lite, it means a form of spousal support payable until a divorce is final. "APL" stands for "alimony pendente lite" in Pennsylvania, and the state has its own rules regarding it.

Timing

Pennsylvania's legislative code is remarkably precise when it comes to alimony issues – much more so than the legislation in some other states. If you know your marriage is ending but neither you nor your spouse has filed for divorce yet, you can ask the court for "spousal support" in this state. You and your spouse must have separated into different households; you can't be contemplating divorce or separation while you still live together. A spousal support order ends when one of you actually files a complaint for divorce. At this point, spousal support automatically becomes alimony pendente lite and continues until your divorce is final. When your divorce litigation ends, so does your APL order, but the court can provide for regular alimony -- which is sometimes just referred to as alimony -- going forward.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Purpose

In Pennsylvania, each type of alimony has a designated purpose. Spousal support and regular alimony are designed so the receiving spouse can make financial ends meet. APL levels the playing field where litigation expenses are concerned. It enables the receiving spouse to pay for the divorce lawsuit and associated costs. Without such a provision in the law, a wealthier spouse might be able to hire a high-priced attorney while the other is forced to represent herself. This can create an unfair advantage for the higher-earning spouse. When one spouse earns more than the other, a Pennsylvania court is inclined to order a diversion of some of his income to the other spouse for purposes of defending the litigation.

Marital Misconduct

Marriages end for a reason; if the cause of your divorce is anything other than Pennsylvania's no-fault grounds, this can affect a claim for alimony under some circumstances. If your misconduct was responsible for ending your marriage, such as if you committed adultery, you're not eligible for spousal support before the filing of a complaint for divorce. Your spouse can raise an entitlement defense if you ask for it, attempting to convince the court that you don't deserve his financial support because of your actions. Judges can also consider marital misconduct when ordering regular alimony post-divorce. Because APL is technically meant to fund the litigation, however, marital misconduct has no impact on this form of alimony.

Imputing Income

Few spouses are overjoyed to pay any form of alimony, and some may attempt to avoid doing so through unemployment or underemployment. If the court determines that this is the case, a Pennsylvania judge can calculate APL based on a spouse's earning capacity rather than his actual income. If that spouse could earn more but doesn't because he's chosen not to work, to work at a job that doesn't pay as much as another he qualifies for, or to work part-time when he's capable of working full-time, the court can impute income to him and base calculations on what he could earn if he chose to do so. After incomes are established, Pennsylvania calculates APL according to statutory support guidelines. This works out to a percentage of the difference between spouses' earnings.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to File for Alimony Pendente Lite

References

Related articles

Alimony Guidelines in Colorado

Alimony – called maintenance in Colorado – is one of the more hotly contested areas of divorce law. It lends itself to controversy because there are rarely any hard-and-fast rules or guidelines. In Colorado, awarding it is often left to the discretion of a judge after he weighs a variety of factors on a case-by-case basis.

How Is Alimony Calculated in Ohio?

Ohio's legislative code doesn't contain a mathematical equation for calculating alimony, also called spousal support. What it does include is a list of 14 factors that judges are supposed to consider when deciding whether to order alimony and, if so, for how long. These are somewhat loose guidelines, however, because they don't say how much weight a judge should give to each factor. Ultimately, it comes down to the opinion of the judge deciding each individual case.

Who Pays for Legal Expenses in a Divorce?

The cost of a contested divorce can escalate to tens of thousands of dollars, so it's no wonder many couples run into trouble financing the fight. Although a simple uncontested divorce might cost less than $1,000, contested divorces usually require many court appearances by your attorney and your attorney must spend hours preparing for these appearances. At an average hourly rate of $250, spouses can easily spend $2,500 just asking the court for temporary support orders early in the case. When you add in fees for experts, such as real estate appraisers and forensic accountants, the cost of a divorce can skyrocket.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Legal Separation & Alimony

Unlike child support, courts usually aren't under any obligation to order alimony. It's designed to provide both ...

What Happens if Someone Quits Jobs in the Middle of a Divorce?

It's not an uncommon occurrence; faced with paying child support or alimony, a spouse might decide mid-divorce to earn ...

Child Suport Guidelines in Arizona

If you have children and you're facing divorce, count yourself lucky if you live in Arizona. The state's statutory ...

Does a Spouse Receive Alimony When Divorced in Ohio?

Spouses can receive alimony during or after a divorce in Ohio, but it’s not an automatic right. Judges make ...

Browse by category