Legal Glossary of Law Firm Pennsylvania for Family Law, Divorce, Injury Law, Medical Malpractice and Legal Advice

Not familiar with a legal term or other legal jargon? Our legal glossary will help you understand specific words, key phrases and terms used within the field of law to help you remain informed.

Alimony Pendente Lite or APL
First off, ‘Pendente lite’ is a Latin term meaning, ‘pending the litigation’. So this is a support order that deals with payments prior to the final divorce decree. Generally, an APL order last until the divorce decree has been finalized and entered and equitable distribution of the assets and debts have been resolved. Under an APL order, the amount payable is calculated upon a percentage of the difference of total net incomes of the parties and after a consideration of additional support obligations. The Pennsylvania courts have decided that the overall purpose of the APL is to allow both spouses to have financial ability to proceed in a divorce action. Therefore, the obligor cannot raise potential entitlement defenses available in spousal support actions (see above). This means, that even if the spouse raising the APL claim, has committed adultery (for example), that spouse still may be entitled to APL.

There are potential issues with APL, first, for the spouse receiving APL, maybe that spouse wants to drag their feet because they are getting this support and attempt to stall the entry of the final divorce decree and equitable distribution. More often than not, the spouse required to pay those APL payments is generally trying to finalize the divorce and equitable distribution issues as soon as possible to limit the duration of APL payments.

One of the most common misconceptions by potential clients and clients in Pennsylvania’s family law is the concept of alimony. Is alimony, even an option in Pennsylvania? Yes, of course! However, each case is different and whether you are entitled to alimony is a question for the court. The Divorce Code at 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3701 states that when a divorce decree (and equitable distribution has been finalized) has been entered, “the court may allow alimony, as it deems reasonable… only if it finds that alimony is necessary.” There are seventeen (17) factors that the court will look to in determining whether alimony is reasonable and necessary. They are as follows:

(1) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
(2) The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
(3) The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
(4) The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
(5) The duration of the marriage.
(6) The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
(7) The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
(8) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
(9) The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.
(10) The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
(11) The property brought to the marriage by either party.
(12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
(13) The relative needs of the parties.
(14) The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct of either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be consideredby the court in its determinations relative to alimony except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party.
(15) The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
(16) Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 (relating to property rights), to provide for the party’s reasonable needs.
(17) Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.

If the Court determines that alimony is reasonable and necessary, then the Court has the discretion to determine the length of time a person pays/receives alimony. The Court may base it upon the length of the marriage, the time it would take the recipient spouse to find appropriate employment, or an event (such as a child graduating from high school or the recipient spouse becoming eligible for social security or retirement).

The Court has lots of discretion when it comes to alimony, but the bottom line is that alimony exists in Pennsylvania.

Adoptions in Pennsylvania require several steps including but not limited to Report of Intent to Adopt, Termination of Parental Rights and Petition for Adoption. An adoption can be sought by a single parent, a married couple, or an unmarried couple including gay and lesbian couples. There are many circumstances that can surround adoption proceedings, and it is important to have a family law attorney involved in cases of Stepparent Adoptions, Interstate Adoptions, International Adoptions, Same-sex Couple Adoptions, or any other Adoption proceeding.

An annulment is a court procedure that terminates a marriage. Unlike divorce, annulment dissolves the marriage and treats it as thought it never took place. Annulment is appropriate under certain circumstances such as misrepresentation, fraud, concealment, or refusal to consummate the marriage.