Marital Misconduct in PA Alimony Cases

In cases where a divorce is initiated by marital misconduct, the concept of alimony can be even more daunting than usual. It is not unusual for the conduct of the cheating spouse to come up in most of the conversations that take place during the divorce process; it can be painful and frustrating. In Pennsylvania, marital misconduct is not a factor in dividing assets and rarely in child support but can be a factor in determining alimony.

According to 23 Pa.C.S. § 3701(a), alimony can be authorized when a divorce decree has been entered and is deemed reasonable, to either party only if it is determined that alimony is necessary. This means that the determination of alimony is discretionary. The court will consider alimony on a case by case basis pursuant to the below factors under the aforementioned statute. Number fourteen describes the notion of marital misconduct in relation to alimony :

1. The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.

2. The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties.

3. The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance, or other benefits.

4. The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.

5. The duration of the marriage.

6. The contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other party.

7. 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.

8. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.

9. 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.

10. The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.

11. The property brought to the marriage by either party.

12. The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.

13. The relative needs of the parties.

14. The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct of either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony, except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party. As used in this paragraph, “abuse” shall have the meaning given to it under section 6102.

15. The Federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.

16. Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35, to provide for the party’s reasonable needs.

17. Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.

An example of this issue is seen in the case of LaBuda v. LaBuda , 349 Pa. Super. 524, 503 A.2d 971 (1987). A Pennsylvania appeals court held that factoring in the extramarital affair of the husband was not improper because of its effect on dissipation of the marital estate. The court does not wish to get too involved in the personal nature of these matters; hence the concept of no-fault divorce. With respect to alimony, it is not seen as a finite determination of alimony.

The determination of the duration of alimony payments will also be made by the courts pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S § 3701(c). This statute indicates that if the court awards alimony, it can be awarded for a period of time or for life. The court will make its decision pursuant to the statutes and in accordance with the specifics of the case.

If you have questions about alimony, divorce or other domestic relations matters, contact the Bucks County divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. at (215) 942-2100. Feel free to submit an online inquiry form and a member of our team will contact you shortly to schedule your consultation.