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A. Purpose of Spousal Support

    1. The purpose of spousal support is to assure a responsible living allowance to the party receiving the support.

    2. The duty to provide spousal support arises from the marital relationship itself and terminates when the marriage ends.


B. Eligibility for Spousal Support

    1. The spouses must be living “separate and apart” for a dependent spouse to be eligible for spousal support.

    2. “Separate and apart” is defined as “complete stopping of any and all cohabitation, whether living in the same household or not”.

    3. Spousal support terminates under the following circumstances:

    a. The entry of a divorce decree.

    b. Death of the spouse receiving the support.

    c. Cohabitation by the recipient spouse with a member of the opposite sex not related to him/her.


C. Amount of the Spousal Support Order

    1. The amount of the order for spousal support will be determined by the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines.

    2. The guidelines suggest an appropriate level of support based on the two spouses’ incomes.

    3. The spouse in need is entitled to support at a level equal to the standard of living to which he/she had previously become accustomed, provided that finances are sufficient for such support.

    4. Where a spouse has voluntarily reduced his/her income, such as by quitting a job, the court will determine their income by considering his/her earning potential.


D. How to obtain Spousal Support

    1. Spousal support actions, like all support actions, are started by filing with the local Domestic Relations Office.

    2. Spousal support may be retroactive to the date of filing.

    3. A hearing will be scheduled to review both spouses’ income and expenses, and to decide upon an appropriate order.

    4. When you are asked to complete an expense sheet, you should list all of your regular expenses, even though you are not able to pay all of them on your current income.


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