Will I Pay More Alimony if I Was Unfaithful?
When infidelity comes to light, some marriages survive while others end in divorce. Dissolution because of cheating can be particularly acrimonious. Anger and hurt are understandably common emotions.
Can adultery affect how much alimony is ordered? The short answer is yes.
A judge in the Court of Common Pleas can consider marital misconduct, like adultery, when deciding alimony and, in some cases, property and debt division. Depending on the details of the affair, the misconduct can impact child custody but generally does not impact child support obligations.
If adultery is a cornerstone in your divorce, our talented attorneys at Scaringi Law can zealously argue your best interests. Whether you want to minimize the effect of your infidelity or maximize the impact of your spouse’s affair, we will determine a strategy that supports your goals.
Pennsylvania Alimony 101
Alimony is not a certainty in any divorce, even those involving infidelity. There are guiding principles that judges use to determine if alimony is warranted and if so, how much. Alimony is gender-neutral and either spouse can petition to receive it. Alimony can be part of an agreement negotiated between spouses or granted through a court order.
The court evaluates the following factors when considering whether to grant alimony:
- The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties
- The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties
- The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits
- The expectancies and inheritances of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party
- 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
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage
- 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
- The relative assets and liabilities of the parties
- The property brought to the marriage by either party
- The contribution of a spouse as homemaker
- The relative needs of the parties
- The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage
- The federal, state, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award
- Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for the party's reasonable needs
- Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment
Alimony is typically paid in monthly installments or in a lump sum. Alimony can be for a definite or indefinite period of time. Court-ordered alimony will end before the termination date if the receiving spouse cohabitates with his or her paramour, remarries or either spouse dies.
The Impact of Cheating on Alimony
As already mentioned, marital misconduct is a factor that a judge considers when determining alimony. Although no more important than any other consideration, cheating will be part of evaluating the entirety of the situation.
The circumstances surrounding infidelity are important. Depending on what the judge sees as fair, an unfaithful spouse can be ordered to pay more alimony than if they had been faithful. While infidelity doesn’t typically affect property division, the cheating spouse sometimes is ordered to part with a greater share of marital assets.
The increased award is not meant to punish the cheating spouse but rather to compensate the other spouse if marital assets were squandered to support the affair. Child custody can be impacted if the affair in some way endangered the health or well-being of the child.
Being unfaithful does not bar a spouse from seeking or receiving alimony.
Types of Alimony
There are five forms of alimony in Pennsylvania, two of which supports a spouse before and during the divorce process.
Alimony in the Keystone State includes the following:
- Spousal Support: This monetary award is available to a dependent spouse after the couple separates. Spousal support ends when the divorce is finalized.
- Alimony Pendente Lite (APL): This support helps a dependent spouse during the divorce proceedings and ends when the divorce is finalized. APL can help with living expenses as well as divorce-related costs.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: A spouse may be awarded rehabilitative alimony to support that spouse while he or she gains skills or education needed to become self-supporting.
- Reimbursement Alimony: A spouse can be reimbursed for their contributions to the higher income spouse’s education or career.
- Permanent Alimony: This alimony is awarded in rare circumstances. Most awards for permanent alimony are in long-term, traditional marriages where the independent spouse is a longtime and good provider and the dependent spouse is unable to reenter the workforce.
Stand Up for Your Rights in Alimony Battles
We will not let our client be manipulated, even if they were unfaithful during the marriage. At Scaringi Law, we aggressively fight for our client’s rights through skilled negotiations or carefully crafted arguments inside the courtroom. You will not find a stronger legal advocate.
Questions about alimony? Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. Reach out to us online or call (717) 775-7195.