APL vs Spousal Support


If we break up will I be able to afford to live??

I can’t afford a lawyer to get divorce. If we break up how will I support myself. Child support is not enough to live off. These are some of the excuses people use to avoid getting a divorce. I say excuses because the law provides a simple solution to all these excuses.

In Pennsylvania there are many different forms of support. There is Spousal Support, and Alimony Pendente Lite. Alimony Pendente Lite is simply alimony paid during litigation. APL covers the time after initially filing for divorce until the divorce is complete. In proper cases, upon petition, the court may allow a spouse reasonable alimony pendente lite, and reasonable counsel fees and expenses. Reasonable counsel fees and expenses may be allowed pendente lite, and the court shall also have authority to direct that adequate health and hospitalization insurance coverage be maintained for the dependent spouse pendente lite.

Spousal support during litigation is like Alimony Pendente Lite with one major exception. There are, “entitlement defenses” to spousal support – meaning that the party who would otherwise be ordered to pay spousal support will not have to pay if one of these defenses applies. These defenses include any grounds for a fault-based divorce, such as if a spouse has committed willful and malicious desertion, committed adultery, or offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.

1) Lack of Entitlement due to a Defective Marriage: If the parties’ ceremonial marriage is not effective for any number of reasons, a dependent spouse in this situation is not entitled to spousal support. Where this arises most frequently is with bigamy, or when a person believes that their previous marriage has ended legally, and they are able to enter into another legal union with a different person. In this situation, spousal support is not appropriate because the marriage itself is considered “defective.”

2) Marital Misconduct: A spouse can forfeit the right to receive PA spousal support if that spouse has engaged in an extramarital affair during the parties’ marriage. This must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. It is important to note, however, that the spouse’s post-separation behavior with respect to affairs is not relevant. Yet, it can become relevant if it sheds light on an affair that existed while the parties were actually married.

3) Condonation: If a spouse “condones” or accepts their spouse’s marital misconduct, then the duty to pay spousal support may be restored. Condonation can take many different forms, but it generally requires that a spouse had knowledge of their spouse’s misconduct and they “condoned” the behavior in some way.

4) Indignities: Engaging in “indignities” is also a defense to spousal support. Indignities are defined in PA as a course of conduct or continued treatment which renders the condition of the innocent party intolerable and his or her life burdensome. It is further defined by PA case law as a course of conduct as is humiliating, degrading and inconsistent with the position and relation as a spouse.

5) Lack of Need: A Pennsylvania court does not have the power to issue a support order if the parties are living in the same household together, unless it can be shown that the basic necessities of life are not being provided.

6) Voluntary withdrawal from the marital residence without adequate cause: A voluntary withdrawal from the marital residence without adequate legal cause is a bar to spousal support. A spouse who has left the marital residence has the legal burden to establish that their spouse’s conduct justified them leaving the marital residence.

This can be confusing and costly if you don’t petition the court for the correct support.  An initial consultation with an experienced family lawyer can help better understand APL and other support you might be entitled to during the divorce process. LaMonaca Law is a family law firm that will help you through the child support process.  Call LaMonaca Law at 610-892-3877 to get more information on initial consultations.

About the author

About Brady Johnson, IV

Brady Johnson graduated from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. After College Brady began his career in Banking, attending Law School at night. Brady received his Juris Doctorate from Widener Law School in Wilmington Delaware. Mr. Johnson focused his studies on Trial Advocacy, Child Abuse and Neglect, Counseling and Negotiations. Mr. Johnson is a member of the American Bar Association and Pennsylvania Bar Association.