By Maura Boogay
Below is an answer to a frequently asked divorce question in Pennsylvania about using income levels to calculate child support and spousal support.
“After my wife and I separated I received a significant raise at work. As we are going through the Pennsylvania divorce process, my wife is making claims for spousal support and child support and wants to use my new income.
Will support calculations be based on my salary when we first separated or my new salary?”
If your wife filed a claim for support, the court would determine your support obligation based on your current earnings, not your past earnings. Bear in mind, this support obligation is different from alimony in that child support is a separate analysis and continues until the children are emancipated.
Spousal support or alimony pendente lite – which is Latin for alimony pending litigation – goes until you are divorced. After divorce, any support you would have to pay your spouse would be considered “alimony” and that analysis is based on the 17 factors enumerated in Pennsylvania Divorce Code, Section 3701.
On one hand, the court may consider your current earnings in calculating the amount of alimony you are able to pay and should pay; on the other hand, other factors must be considered such as the length of marriage, opposing party’s ability to sustain herself, the standard of living during the marriage, etc.
Your best move is to have Pennsylvania divorce lawyer run the support guidelines for you – Pennsylvania calculates child and spousal support according to the statewide support guidelines – and give you an idea of how much you should expect to be ordered to pay in support if wife pursues this action. Note that alimony is a different analysis in the sense it is driven by a factors analysis as opposed to the guidelines.
Long answer short, if your spouse goes for support now, it will be ordered based on your present income. This is true for child support before and after a divorce; it will always be your current income.
Alimony is a more complex analysis but your current earnings are part of that determination.
If you are a man facing divorce and are susceptible to possibly paying support in Pennsylvania, please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction to ensure your rights are protected. Cordell & Cordell has offices and family law attorneys located in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Radnor should you seek additional information or possible legal representation.