Standard Pennsylvania Practice
Database updated March 2010
Chapter 126. Domestic Relations Actions
Mary Babb Morris, J.D., George Blum, J.D., John Bourdeau, J.D., Russell J. Davis, J.D., M.A., Tracy Bateman Farrell, J.D., Christine M. Gimeno, J.D., LL.M., Tammy E. Hinshaw, J.D., John Kimpflen, J.D., Sonja Larsen, J.D., Jane E. Lehman, J.D., Kimberly C. Simmons, J.D., Mary Ellen West, J.D.
V. Procedure in Divorce and Annulment
AA. Alimony and Alimony Pendente Lite
2. Alimony Pendente Lite
b. Allowance of Claim; Particular Circumstances Affecting Right to Alimony Pendente Lite
§ 126:656. Generally
West's Key Number Digest
West's Key Number Digest, Divorce 210, 212, 214
In the consideration of whether alimony pendente lite should be allowed, the guiding principles are the needs of the claimant, the claimant's separate estate and income, the respondent's property and income, the style in which the parties lived when they were together, and, generally, the character, situation, and surroundings of the parties. While the statute enumerating the factors to be considered in awarding alimony, by its terms, applies only to post-decree support, it is appropriate for the court to consider these factors, with others, in determining an award of alimony pendente lite.
In ruling on a claim for alimony pendente lite, the court should consider the following factors: the ability of the other party to pay; the separate estate and income of the petitioning party; and the character, situation, and surroundings of the parties.
A wife would be awarded alimony pendente lite where (1) although she was employed as a substitute school teacher before and during the marriage, she worked at the husband's grocery store for eight years before the parties' separation, (2) the wife had negligible income and was unable to find employment as a substitute teacher, and (3) the husband had substantial income and assets. The court would not deny an award of alimony pendente lite to a wife on the basis that her teaching certification was in New Jersey and that she was living in Massachusetts, notwithstanding the contention that she should have been looking for employment as a teacher in either New Jersey or Pennsylvania, where she had also worked as a teacher; the court could not and would not tell the wife where to live. The court improperly awarded alimony pendente lite to the wife where (1) there was no bifurcated divorce decree and the parties were divorced at the time the court adopted the master's recommendation, and (2) the wife received a total distribution of more than $225,000.00.
Moreover, the trial court properly reinstated alimony pendente lite (APL) for a former wife in a divorce proceeding; although the former husband contended that the court abused its discretion by reinstating APL in the amount of $4,800 per month since the wife had already been awarded over $688,000.00 in marital assets as her equitable distribution award, the wife clearly needed APL throughout the duration of the appeal, as she had not yet received her equitable distribution award.
[FN1] Hoffman v. Hoffman, 53 Pa. D. & C. 457, 1945 WL 2018 (C.P. 1945).
[FN2] 23 Pa.C.S. § 3701(b), discussed in §§ 126:667, 126:671, 126:792.
[FN3] McNulty v. McNulty, 347 Pa. Super. 363, 500 A.2d 876 (1985).
[FN4] Busse v. Busse, 2007 PA Super 100, 921 A.2d 1248 (2007), appeal denied, 594 Pa. 693, 934 A.2d 1275 (2007).
[FN5] Nothstein v. Nothstein, 13 Pa. D. & C.4th 55, 1991 WL 476257 (C.P. 1991).
[FN6] Jayne v. Jayne, 443 Pa. Super. 664, 663 A.2d 169 (1995).
[FN7] Haentjens v. Haentjens, 2004 PA Super 398, 860 A.2d 1056 (2004).
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SPP § 126:656
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