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Alimony Pendente Lite v. Spousal Support- What's the Difference?

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The substantive distinction between alimony pendente lite and spousal support has become negligible.

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Support Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

A spousal support obligation arises out of the marriage relationship.  In contrast, an alimony pendente lite obligation exists only during the pendency of a divorce proceeding to enable a dependent spouse to prosecute or defend the action. Orders for spousal support and alimony pendente lite may not be in effect simultaneously.

Orders of support and alimony pendente lite are based upon the payor's ability to pay as well as the needs of the recipient. The Pennsylvania Support Guidelines must be applied to determine the amount of any order for child support, spousal support or alimony pendente lite.  Although a single order, either support or alimony pendente lite, may cover the identical expenses and be in an identical amount, there is actually an additional element of expense in alimony pendente lite that is not present in the support needs of a party, since the alimony pendente lite recipient must pay the expenses of the pending litigation in addition to meeting day-to-day support needs.  The substantive distinction between spousal support and alimony pendente lite has become negligible and the Guidelines are to be utilized in determining the amount of the award in either case.  

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