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How Does Marital Misconduct Affect Alimony in Pennsylvania?

Published: Mar 20, 2017 in Divorce

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

Marriages can end without either partner being at fault. Often times, you simply grow apart. Mutually agreeing to separately move forward in life is the best thing to do under the circumstances. However, your marriage may also end because you or your spouse did something that significantly hurt the other or eroded the relationship to the point that it could not be repaired. These types of actions are often referred to as marital misconduct, and they may alter the outcome of your divorce in Pennsylvania. More specifically, marital misconduct can be taken into account when a judge determines alimony.

If you are concerned that your or your partner’s behavior will affect the outcome of your divorce, call a Pittsburgh alimony attorney of Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC at (412) 471-5100 as soon as possible.

Marital Misconduct Defined in Pennsylvania

In general, marital misconduct is committed by one spouse and leads to an intolerable condition for the other and the eventual breakdown of the marriage. When you hear the term, you may first think of extramarital affairs, and while relationships outside of the marriage are certainly a common type of marital misconduct throughout the country; alcoholism, drug addiction, physical and emotional abuse, desertion, and bigamy are also other examples of marital misconduct. Additionally, one individual being imprisoned for committing a crime may be considered misconduct, as well as extreme financial distress caused by an individual’s reckless spending or destruction of assets.

How Marital Misconduct Affects Alimony

Under Pennsylvania Code Section 3701(b), a court can take the marital misconduct of your or your spouse into consideration when deciding if alimony is necessary, and if so, how much and for how long. If you ask for alimony and your husband or wife committed the misconduct, the court may consider an affair, addiction or abuse in support of granting you financial support. If you seek alimony and committed the misconduct, your actions may reinforce a denial.

However, misconduct is not the only factor that matters to the courts and it alone is unlikely to sway a judge one way or another. The Pennsylvania statute lays out 16 other factors that are relevant when deciding to grant alimony, the amount, and duration, including:

  • Each person’s earnings and earning capacity
  • Each person’s age and physical, mental, and emotional health
  • Each person’s sources of income, including insurance, retirement, and other benefits
  • Any expected inheritances
  • The length of the marriage
  • The contribution of each person to the other’s education, training, or greater earning capacity
  • Whether and how much a person’s financial obligations and earning capacity will be affected by serving as primary custodian of a child
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The education of each party and the time the party seeking alimony would need to acquire necessary education or training to gain employment
  • The assets and liabilities of each person
  • The property each person brought into the marriage
  • The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker
  • The needs of each person
  • The tax consequences of alimony on each person
  • Whether the person asking for alimony lacks property to provide for his or her needs
  • Whether the person asking for alimony is capable of supporting his or herself through appropriate employment

Will Marital Misconduct Affect Property Division?

According to Pennsylvania Code Section 3502(a), the court will equitably divide the marital estate without regard to marital misconduct. Under the law, the court will not award you more of the marital estate if you were negatively affected by marital misconduct. There is a rare exception, however, in which the court considers infidelity if it negatively impacted your marital finances. For example, if your husband had an affair and used a considerable amount of marital funds to support the third party or purchase the third-party lavish gifts or vacations, then the court may reduce your husband’s portion of the marital estate by that amount.

Contact a Pittsburgh Alimony Lawyer for Advice Today

If you are wondering how an affair or other actions taken by you or your spouse will influence your divorce, contact attorney Anthony Piccirilli as soon as possible. Marital misconduct can assuredly affect your divorce and it can depend on a number of circumstances, including the egregiousness of the behavior, whether it impacted your marital finances, and whether either of you asks for alimony.

Call today at (412) 471-5100 to schedule a consultation.