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Spousal Support and Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) vs. Alimony

While the concept of child support is widely understood, many clients are not aware that separated spouses may also be eligible to receive support. Spousal support refers to support that the higher-earning spouse pays to the lower-earning spouse during the parties’ separation, up to the time that their divorce is finalized. Spousal support is not automatic; a spouse who desires support must affirmatively file for support with Domestic Relations. After filing, Domestic Relations will schedule a conference and request various pieces of financial information and documents from both spouses. The paying spouse will have the opportunity to refute the other spouse’s entitlement to spousal support, for example by proving that the other spouse’s adultery or improper conduct led to the break-up of the marriage.

Alimony pendente lite (APL) involves the same calculation as spousal support, but its purpose is slightly different: APL is intended to support the lower-earning spouse throughout the ongoing divorce litigation. This means that, unlike spousal support, a spouse is not entitled to APL until one of the spouses has filed for divorce. Unlike spousal support, adultery and various other fault grounds do not prohibit a spouse from receiving APL, so APL can be an attractive option to the receiving spouse in cases where the paying spouse alleges that the other spouse is not entitled to support due to a fault ground. Like spousal support, APL typically ends upon the finalization of the parties’ divorce, though it may continue until an appeal is decided if either party chooses to appeal.

Spousal support and APL are not the same as alimony, which is an ongoing payment (usually monthly, often for a set duration of time) from one spouse to the other after the entry of the divorce decree. Spousal support and alimony are intended to help the receiving spouse with living and/or legal costs until their divorce is finalized, which is when alimony (if agreed to, or ordered by the court) would start. Unlike spousal support and APL, which are more routinely granted by the court and based on the difference in income between the parties, alimony is need-based; it is not simply enough to demonstrate that one spouse earns more than the other, but rather, that the spouse who would be receiving alimony actually needs it and the paying spouse has the ability to pay alimony.

If you are interested in discussing spousal support, APL, or alimony in more depth with one of our attorneys, call Tanner Law at (717) 731-8114
to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.