Support order types and calculation in Pennsylvania

If you are the breadwinner in your relationship, you may end up paying support upon or after divorcing. How do you know for sure, and how much do you pay? A few things affect the type and amount of support that you must provide.

Should you have to pay support, it may be beneficial to have some knowledge of how it works and what contributes to calculations.

Types of support

There are three different types of support that a spouse may have to pay throughout the divorce process. These include:

  1.        Spousal support
  2.        Alimony pendente lite
  3.        Alimony

Each type of support is a regular payment to provide financial support for a spouse. One of the main differences between the three is when the spouse receives the payment. Spousal support is payment after separation but before the finalization of the divorce. Pendente lite literally means “while the action is pending,” so alimony pendente lite is an order of support between the time of filing and the final divorce order. The amount of support ordered during or after the final divorce decree is otherwise known as alimony.


If the two parties can come to an agreement about the amount of support, the courts usually honor it during proceedings. However, if both parties cannot agree, the support then orders it. In Pennsylvania, the courts utilize Rule 1910.16-4 to calculate spousal support. For these calculations, the courts consider a few factors, such as:

  •          Income and benefits
  •          Earning capacity or limitations
  •          Debts and assets
  •          Length of marriage
  •          Standard of living
  •          Spousal contribution to matriculation
  •          Marital misconduct

These and other factors contribute to the final decision on a support amount. Keep in mind that these calculations do not include child support.

If you are facing support payments, make sure that you know how it works, as well as your rights, so that you may pursue a fair judgment.