February 16, 2014

Defense of Spousal Support, Overview and Facts

Defense of Spousal Support, Overview and Fact Sheet

When a party files for support, the whole tone of a divorce can change dramatically. Money, which may have been the cause of divorce, certainly raises the stakes during a divorce action and can lead to troubled negotiations or discussion. Pennsylvania laws exist to prohibit an undeserving spouse from receiving spousal support, but requires the objecting party to prove why. Defense of spousal support requires a diligent and knowledgeable divorce lawyer who can fight an undeserving spouse.

Understanding the defense of spousal support in Pennsylvania requires a basic knowledge of the law guiding spousal support. There are varying forms of support which vary based upon duration of payments to the obligee spouse.

A claim for spousal support may be filed to continue the financial status of a party prior to separation. There are a few types of support; spousal support is separate from child support and is intended to allow the other party financial security that would normally exist if the parties were together while the divorce action is pending (in some cases, and called alimony pendente lite). Other types such as alimony continue after the divorce is finalized and until the party is no longer eligible, such as by cohabitation with another partner, etc. The two orders would never be in effect at the same time.

A party who is objecting to the award of spousal support must prove a ground for fault based divorce. The objecting party must provide clear and convincing evidence that the award is not proper and he or she bears the burden of proof. Having the right attorney to argue the defense to spousal support is critical and can make the difference in whether or not it is awarded. Being the party that bears the burden of proof in these cases requires a knowledge of local procedure and case law to support the facts of each case.

For the defense of spousal support, the objecting party must prove the existence of any of the below conditions pursuant to fault-based divorce requirements.

Fault grounds for divorce are as follows pursuant to 3301(c):

1. Willful and malicious desertion without reasonable cause for at least one year;

2. Adultery;

3. Cruel and barbarous treatment of an injured and innocent spouse;

4. Bigamy;

5. Imprisonment for at least two years after conviction of a crime;

6. Indignities to the innocent and injured spouse which makes that spouse’s

condition intolerable and life burdensome.

Conduct must be pre-separation and on a continuous basis. The party alleging indignities bears the burden of proof that the behavior was no isolated occurrence but rather a pattern of behavior.

Spousal support cases can be difficult to handle without the right Bucks County divorce lawyer. Choosing the right divorce and support attorney could mean the difference of saving thousands a year in paying out undeserved support. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our Doylestown divorce attorneys and find out what we can do for you and your case.

Call today at (215) 942-2100 or submit an online inquiry form to have a member of our team contact you to schedule a consultation.