Breadwinning Women: Four Focus Points For Paying Less Or No Alimony Pendente Lite
For the sake of this blog article, let’s say you’re a married woman. You’ve spent your marriage being the breadwinner for the family, or just recently you’ve taken a front seat in the earning game. One day, you come home from work to find your no-good-dirty-rotten-husband in bed with the housekeeper. You file for a PA divorce, and, soon after, your husband files for spousal support – more specifically, Alimony Pendente Lite (“APL”). APL is a type of spousal support granted after the divorce complaint if filed, but before the PA divorce is finalized. In Pennsylvania, the purpose of APL is to provide the dependent spouse with enough money to afford legal representation. With more and more Pennsylvania women taking a breadwinning role in their households, the amount of women paying APL in PA continues to rise.
So, what exactly are the steps in the Pennsylvania APL process? Procedurally speaking, after your soon-to-be-ex spouse files for support, a conference will be scheduled. During this conference, you and your ex will need to provide proof of your income, the previous year’s tax return, and, possibly, some other information that the court requested. The conference officer will calculate how much both of you make per month, and then assess each of you with a specific earning capacity. After the earning capacity is determined, the conference officer will calculate a figure of support that you are required to pay to your ex, and, if you both agree, an order will be entered that reflects said amount. However, if you both disagree, you will proceed to a hearing in front of a Domestic Relations Officer (“DRO”).
So, how do you walk away from your APL hearing paying the bare minimum or none to your soon-to-be-ex spouse? Emphasis the following four focus points:
1.Focus on his earning capacity.
Once you’re in front of the conference officer or the DRO, there’s an 83% chance your ex is going to say that he is unable to work. Suddenly, ailments you’ve never heard of will spring from the woodwork and a whole host of excuses will fall like rain as to why he can’t/isn’t working. It’s important that you hammer the fact that your ex CAN work, and, therefore, should be assessed a full-time earning capacity. The more your ex can earn, the more his earning capacity will be. The more his earning capacity, the less support you are required to pay. Boom.
2. Focus on his previous jobs and earnings.
Sometimes ex’s forget that they once worked and generated income for the household. Don’t let him forget. If your ex spent the majority of your marriage working and earning some income, those previous earnings should be considered by the DRO. Speak up and make sure the DRO understands that your ex is choosing not to work – or even lying by saying that he isn’t working.
3. Focus on whether or not he is living with another woman.
If the housekeeper decided to move in with your ex, there is no way you should be required to support both of those bums. When the DRO calculates earning capacity, this other woman’s income or contribution to the household should affect your ex’s earning capacity. Thus, lowering your support amount.
4. Focus on how you are currently contributing.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget all the little – and big – things that you do for your ex even though you guys aren’t living together. Do you still pay the utilities? Mortgage? Cell phones? Bring proof that you are in charge of certain bills, and the DRO should credit you for paying those expenses.
We understand that APL can be confusing. Give us a call today and we can help you navigate these murky waters. We’ll even send your ex an anonymous note saying that the housekeeper may have a venereal disease.
… okay… we won’t really do that. Though, we would really want to…
*Our office accepts Pennsylvania family law cases including divorce, equitable distribution, spousal support, alimony pendente lite, alimony, paternity and child support matters, child custody cases, juvenile law cases, and related matters in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Beaver County, Berks County, Butler County, Clearfield County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County (Greensburg).
Our law firm accepts Pennsylvania family law cases from other Pennsylvania counties including Armstrong County (Kittanning), Clarion County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Somerset County, and Venango County.*