What is Child Support/Spousal Support?


Child Support is a payment required from one parent to another parent when one of parent lives separately from the child and other parent. Spousal Support is a separate payment that is sometimes required when spouses do not live together.

Happy Mother and Son Hugging. Mother and Child Having Fun at Home. Parental Love and Care Concept

Child Support

In Pennsylvania, parents are obliged to provide financial support for their children until they turn 18 or graduate from high school, whichever comes last. Once a child has turned 18 and graduated from high school, parents are not required to support their child. If a child has special needs, child support can continue past age 18. The custodial parent receives the child support payments and the non-custodial parent makes the payments. In the case of equally shared custody, the parent who earns the most money will pay child support if the difference in the parents’ respective incomes is great enough. Pennsylvania has Child Support Guidelines that provide a basis for determining reasonable child support payments.

If both parents are employed and receive W-2s, the support calculation is fairly predictable and often can be worked out by the parents’ attorneys, often avoiding the need to go to the Domestic Relations Office. If one or both of the parents is self-employed, the process can be a little more difficult because determining income for support purposes is not the same as the income that is reported on an individual’s tax return.

In addition to the basic support that is calculated under the Support Guidelines, adjustments are made for which party provides the health insurance, counseling, day care, tutoring, sports fees and other activities for the child as agreed by the parents

Spousal Support, APL and Alimony


These three types of support payments are made by one spouse to the other to provide financial support during or after a divorce. The amount, frequency and duration of payments may be negotiated between spouses or may be determined by the court.

Spousal Support


Financial support paid after the spouses separate. A divorce action does not have to be filed for spousal support to be ordered, but the paying spouse has the ability to object to the payment of spousal support under certain circumstances. If spousal support is being paid and a divorce is filed, spousal support ends when the divorce is final.

Alimony pendente lite (APL)


A temporary order for support made after the divorce action is filed but before there is a final divorce decree. The purpose of APL is to provide the receiving spouse to assist financially during the divorce process.
Both Spousal Support and APL are determined by guidelines in the Pennsylvania Code.

Alimony pendente lite (APL)


Alimony is money paid from one ex-spouse to the other after the divorce is final. Unlike spousal support and APL, there are no state guidelines for alimony payments in Pennsylvania. There is no guarantee of alimony in divorce cases. It’s highly dependent on the circumstances of each case. Alimony can be agreed upon by the parties or ordered by the Court. In order to grant alimony, a court must consider 17 factors in considering whether to award alimony to an ex-spouse when the divorce has been granted. The alimony factors that must be considered include:

  • the length of the marriage and the standard of living during the marriage
  • the spouses’ income and earning capacities
  • the assets and debts of each spouse
  • each spouse’s financial needs
  • the spouses’ sources of income, including benefits like retirement, medical, insurance and anticipated inheritances
  • whether either spouse helped the other to get training, education, or increased income during the marriage
  • whether a spouse has expenses and/or a limited earning ability due to having custody of a minor child
  • the separate property each spouse brought to the marriage
  • whether a spouse contributed to the marriage as a homemaker
  • how alimony will affect each spouse’s taxes
  • whether the spouse asking for alimony is able to be self-supporting through reasonable employment.

To discuss your concerns about Spousal Support, APL and Alimony, contact us at 610-639-1666.