Depending upon who you listen to, approximately 50% of first marriages end in divorce. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 50% of first marriages for women dissolve by year twenty. Understanding the process of separation and divorce can dramatically lower the stress and mental anguish associated with these life changing events.
“My husband said I would be penniless if I leave him. Is this true?” This is perhaps the first hurdle of uncertainty an individual faces when separating from a spouse. To help dispel uncertainties and flat out manipulative untruths, here is how it works. Child support and spousal support are available to a separated spouse, even without filing for divorce. Montgomery County, like most counties in Pennsylvania, has a Domestic Relations Office to handle claims for support. The system is geared towards non-lawyers and filings can be made with or without a lawyer. Basic Support is calculated based upon the parties’ earning capacities. So quitting your job to spite your spouse will not work! Once the basic support obligation is calculated certain expenses may be considered. For example, health insurance, private school tuition, and mortgage payments may also be considered when calculating the total support obligation. Whether there are minor children or not, the spouse that makes less may receive spousal support. After a divorce is filed, the party making less may receive Alimony Pendente Lite (“APL”) which is provided so that the spouse may maintain or defend the divorce action. Pennsylvania has a formula for these calculations that are applied to almost all support cases.
So what’s the answer? Will you be penniless if you separate from your spouse? Hopefully, you can now answer that question for yourself. But I ask you, when was the last time you saw a divorced spouse and her three children penniless and on the side of the road in the pristine suburbs of Montgomery County?
Jim McCarthy is an attorney at the law firm of McCarthy & McCarthy, P.C. (www.mccarthymccarthy.com) and can be reached at JMcCarthy@McCarthyMcCarthy.com . Nothing in this blog is legal advice. No one should act upon the contents of this blog and should consult an attorney for advice based upon their facts and circumstances before making any decisions.