What Does the Man Pay for When He Gets a Divorce in Pennsylvania?

By Cindy Chung

Men often have financial concerns when going through divorce. The prospect of legal fees, alimony, child support, property division and debt obligations may become stressful and even overwhelming. A man who plans to divorce in Pennsylvania should understand his financial rights and responsibilities according to the state's divorce laws. State laws generally cannot require a husband to make payments simply because of his gender. Instead, the courts must consider each couple's financial situation — for some couples, the wife may have more financial obligations than the husband after divorce.

Filing Fees and Court Costs

The Pennsylvania district courts charge filing fees and court costs for divorce cases. A husband must usually pay a filing fee when starting an action for divorce. If the wife already started a divorce case, the husband must pay a fee when filing paperwork as the defendant in the case for the first time. The exact fees charged by the Pennsylvania courts depend on the current Prothonotary Fee Schedule, i.e. schedule of court fees, which may change from one year to the next. If a low-income husband explains that he cannot afford to pay filing fees and court costs, the court may decide to excuse him from paying.

Attorney's Fees

Private divorce lawyers usually charge fees on an hourly basis or as a flat rate for an entire case. If a husband and wife each hire an attorney, each person is typically responsible for paying his or her attorney's fees. However, if only one spouse cannot afford an attorney or the court recognizes a significant difference between the two spouses' financial resources, Pennsylvania divorce laws allow the court to require the payment of one spouse's attorney's fees by the other spouse. No law specifically requires a husband to pay his wife's attorney's fees; rather, the court must look at each couple's financial circumstances.

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Husbands often want to know whether a Pennsylvania court can require ongoing alimony payments to their wives after divorce. Whether a man must pay alimony depends on the final terms of the couple's divorce. If the spouses voluntarily negotiate a settlement, their agreement might include alimony paid by the husband. If the spouses cannot agree on a settlement, a Pennsylvania judge must decide whether to include a court order for alimony. A man must pay alimony if ordered to do so by the court; failure to pay might result in legal consequences such as wage garnishment.

Marital Debts

The payment of marital debts often becomes a contentious issue in a divorce, especially if the couple has a significant number of debts. In Pennsylvania, spouses can negotiate each person's responsibility for marital debts as part of a settlement agreement. However, if they cannot negotiate a settlement, a state court will need to allocate responsibility for debts as part of the court orders in the divorce case. Pennsylvania law requires the court to divide marital assets and debts in a fair and equitable manner. Accordingly, a husband may receive a court order to pay specified debts as part of the divorce.

Child Support

A man with children may need to pay child support after getting a divorce in Pennsylvania. Whether a father must pay child support depends on the court orders regarding custody and support. If a father has custody of the children, the other parent is likely the one who must pay support. However, if a father does not have custody, he will likely have to pay child support. Pennsylvania child support laws establish the amount of support based on both parents' income and the number of children.

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