Alimony & Spousal Support

Do I Have to pay a Spousal Support During the Pendency of our Divorce if He or She Cheated on Me?

In Pennsylvania marital misconduct is a factor considered by the Courts in denying alimony or spousal support, but it does not limit a party’s ability to collect alimony pendente lite. Alimony pendente lite (“APL”) refers to court ordered payments from one spouse to the other spouse during the parties’ separation period and the pendency of the divorce and equitable distribution proceedings, whereas alimony refers a court ordered support payments from one former spouse to the other former spouse after their marriage has ended and a divorce decree has been entered.

APL is generally paid by the primary bread winner to a dependent spouse with less or no earnings and limited financial resources. Pennsylvania has a statute that allows for a court to grant APL, counsel fees and expenses to either spouse during the pendency of the action, but unlike the statute allowing for alimony, marital misconduct is not a factor that the courts may considered when awarding APL to a spouse.

Courts in Pennsylvania have consistently found that APL is not barred by martial misconduct, because the purpose of APL is to place spouses on equal economic footing during the divorce proceedings. In Schenk v. Schenk, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania stated, “APL is based on the need of one party to have equal financial resources to pursue a divorce proceeding when, in theory, the other party has major assets.” This illustrates that APL is dependent on the state of the litigation and that it aims to place both spouses on equal footing in litigating the divorce proceeding. In Schenk, the Court found that APL could even be awarded to a spouse who is cohabitating with her boyfriend during the divorce proceedings, if she could “demonstrate the need for maintenance and professional services during the pendency of the proceedings.”

Accordingly, if your spouse cheated on you, you may still be required to provide APL to your spouse during the pendency of any divorce proceedings, but your spouse’s marital misconduct could preclude any claims of alimony or spousal support that your spouse may attempt to assert. If you are contemplating divorce and have any questions or concerns regarding possible divorce proceedings and their financial implications, please do not hesitate to contact us and set up an appointment.

Filed Under: Family Law/ Family Litigation

Philadelphia Family Law Firm with your questions, comments or concerns.