Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

My wife's lawyer waited until today around 3pm to send my lawyer the pay information that was needed to negotiate a support/maintenance. Obviously that didn't leave us any time to attempt any compromise outside of the courts.

I don't want this divorce and it has caused me a lot of pain and stress but this is part of the process. My wife has made no attempt to reconcile our relationship and has asked for 'no contact'. Not a court ordered no contact but her lawyer sent me a letter requesting that there be no direct or electronic contact. This has upset me quite a bit since I feel like I'm being made out to be some kind of monster that she can't have any contact with.

btw, I live in Pennsylvania. We've been married for 3 years and each of us has been employed. I make approximately $600 more than my wife per month.

My lawyer tells me that the process goes like this....

- Meet at the courthouse and both my wife and I will see a hearing officer that will plug our net income figures into a formula that will determine the amount of support.

- Once the amount is determined we can either agree on it or argue that it should be more or less. In this case, I will argue it should lower. One point that I will argue is that my wife decided to take a different job after we separated that pays her about $200 less than her previous job.

I'm hoping we can agree on a reasonable amount but I'm not getting my hopes to high.

Does anyone have any advice for the best approach to this support hearing or any other stories of what to expect or your experiences?

Thanks.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

Bring with you to court a list of all your bills.. especially community debt that you are paying. Are you currently paying all of the community debt?

If you are, ask that any support should go towards paying her half of the community debt.

Make sure that you know how much money you need to live on so that you know the bottom line of what you can afford. Do not agree to pay her one penny more than the formula stipulates. She'd have to have a very good argument for a judge to order you to pay more.

Generally what happens is that the different between your gross pay will be the amount of support. So if the different is $600, you would pay $240 a month based on the forumula below.


Pennsylvania Formula

Under Pennsylvania law, the amount of support to be awarded is determined by a formula outlined in the Pennsylvania Code.

The Pennsylvania formula suggests that alimony should be calculated as follows: Alimony equals 40% of the difference in the parties’ net incomes (after subtracting other support orders, if any, from the payor’s income).55 Adjustments can be made for other expenses such as health insurance, day care and extracurricular expenses, medical expenses, and mortgage payments.

Sample Calculation:

Calculation of Suggested Alimony Order:
John’s Net Income $100,000
- Jane’s Net Income $ 20,000
= $ 80,000
x 40 %
= Suggested Annual Alimony Order: $ 32,000 from John to Jane
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

Do you have children?

One absolute in alimony in Pennsylvania is that cohabiting with a new partner will bar a spouse from getting alimony. Has your wife been cheating on you? Is she living with anyone... an guy?
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:31 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

Are you going to court for the temporary alimony that is awarded during the dirvorce? That's what it sounds like. Then later you would negotiate the amount of alimony after the divorce. A short as your marriage has been, I doubt you will pay alimony after your divorce is final.


Alimony Pendente Lite or "APL"

As mentioned above, APL refers to alimony that is paid during the course of litigation for a divorce. APL is a temporary, immediate form of maintenance to ensure that the economically weaker spouse does not suffer undue hardship during litigation. When a divorce decree is issued, APL payments end and normal alimony payments begin. At that time, alimony payments can increase, decrease or stay the same.

Individuals can also receive APL payments to help pay for legal counsel while the divorce is still pending.

Regarding Alimony in Pennsylvania, below is an abbreviated and very summarized version of part of what the Pennsylvania Pa.R.C.P. and/or Pa.C.S.A. provides:

(Please note that this content may not be continuously updated, and thus may not contain the most recent updates and/or revisions of the Pennsylvania laws and supplemental information. This information is provided for overview and information purposes, and is not meant to be legal advice. It is always best to consult with an experienced family law attorney, who utilizes much more than the following information, including case law, statutory law, and other resources to provide legal advice.)
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

No, No kids.

Thank you, I'm aware of the 40% of the income difference.

What's the possibility that I could argue it should be less since I now have to pay rent since she asked me to leave the house? And also because she separated our cell phone bills, vehicle insurance premiums, health insurance which means each of our monthly expenses went up.

I just want to be prepared as best I can and have all the information I need to get the best result. My lawyer told me that the expense form is more child support situations and that I wouldn't really need to fill one out.

I don't pay into our community deb and have not done so since we separated our checking accounts. I was asked to leave the marital home and didn't ask my wife to help pay my rent. I have no debt but my wife has a car payment for the car she drives (my car was paid off before we married), school loan payments (which were being paid from our joint account), and a shopping addiction at whole foods :P
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

The summons to appear in court is for a 'complaint for spousal support'.

My wife has not filed for divorce and there is not mention of APL on the court order. My lawyer fears that she may just be seeking support and then sitting on it to milk some money out of me. My lawyer also feels there is little to no chance of my wife being awarded legal fees.

I also know that my wife is applying for another, yes yet another new job. So what happens if she gets a new job and starts earning more than she currently does?
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by EleGirl View Post
Do you have children?

One absolute in alimony in Pennsylvania is that cohabiting with a new partner will bar a spouse from getting alimony. Has your wife been cheating on you? Is she living with anyone... an guy?
Sadly, my wife is seeing someone last I know of. She asked that we not see other people during our trial separation which I agreed to of course but 2 months later she's seeing a coworker who coincidentally is getting a divorce and has young daughters. What a mess. I don't think they're cohabitating.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

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What's the possibility that I could argue it should be less since I now have to pay rent since she asked me to leave the house? And also because she separated our cell phone bills, vehicle insurance premiums, health insurance which means each of our monthly expenses went up.
Do you both own the home she is living in?
I know itís too late for this, but you should not have left the marital home. She has no right to kick you out. Itís your home as well.
Are you still paying on the place she lives in as well as paying your own rent? Or does she pay on the place she lives in and you pay your own?
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I just want to be prepared as best I can and have all the information I need to get the best result. My lawyer told me that the expense form is more child support situations and that I wouldn't really need to fill one out.
From what Iíve seen this is right. Expenses for spousal support will only come into play if one of you is paying community debt or have some huge medical need.

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Originally Posted by ReadyToChange View Post
I don't pay into our community deb and have not done so since we separated our checking accounts. I was asked to leave the marital home and didn't ask my wife to help pay my rent. I have no debt but my wife has a car payment for the car she drives (my car was paid off before we married), school loan payments (which were being paid from our joint account), and a shopping addiction at whole foods :P
School loans are generally considered separate debt. You alone owe your student loans and she alone owes her student loans.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:55 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

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Originally Posted by ReadyToChange View Post
The summons to appear in court is for a 'complaint for spousal support'.

My wife has not filed for divorce and there is not mention of APL on the court order. My lawyer fears that she may just be seeking support and then sitting on it to milk some money out of me. My lawyer also feels there is little to no chance of my wife being awarded legal fees.

I also know that my wife is applying for another, yes yet another new job. So what happens if she gets a new job and starts earning more than she currently does?
I would agree that there is little to no chance that she will get legal fees. You two essentially earn the same abount. A $600 difference in income is almost meaningless.

If she gets a job and earns more you can go back to court and have the payments adjusted. If she ends up earning more than you do, she would have to pay you support.

One of the problems with the situation you have right now is that if your wife runs up debt it might still be considered community debt. You need to double check that with your attorney.

Her filing for support without filing a divorce or legal separation is really bad news for you. I think that it might we wise for you to file for divorce. That would give you a lot more control over what is going on here. It would help you limit the amount of support you would have to pay. She would not be expecting you to do it so it would throw her off guard.

Keep in mind that if down the line the two of you decide to reconcile, you can stop the divorce. But during the interim she will not be able to take advantage of you. The fact that she has not filed for divorce makes it pretty clear that she intended to lean on you financially.

One thing to think of is to tell your attorney to file for divorce on Monday before the court hearing and ask for a cotinuance because of the divorce filing. Or just have him ask for a continuance since her attorney did not get you the paperwork in time. For for whatever other reason your attorney can dream up. Then file for divorce. Now that changes things a lot.

For one thing, if she is cheating on you, that can be taken into consideration in divorce. She could lose her rights to any support if she has been cheating.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:56 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by ReadyToChange View Post
Sadly, my wife is seeing someone last I know of. She asked that we not see other people during our trial separation which I agreed to of course but 2 months later she's seeing a coworker who coincidentally is getting a divorce and has young daughters. What a mess. I don't think they're cohabitating.
Can you get a PI to find out if they are cohabitating?
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:29 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

Thank you for the advice. I think I will end up paying some amount of support but I do want to minimize the cost. I will be able to deduct these payments come tax time.

I know this is irrelevant to the support but I don't want a divorce and still believe that our marriage can be salvaged. She has made any attempt to reconcile difficult since she refuses to communicate and asked the lawyer to direct me to not contact her directly or electronically. I'm not sure why she did this since I've never abused her physically, verbally or emotionally.

If/When she files it will have to be a 'no fault' divorce since there are no fault grounds. I don't think she had been cheating on me. This relationship developed about 2 months after our separation, right about the same time she no longer wanted to talk. I don't mean to make generalizations but I think she was scared of the divorce at first but when she connected with this new guy emotionally, she was able to fill the void that our separation left. So when she files, what can I do to delay the final divorce decree? I would also like to ask the judge to require us to attend marital counseling if for nothing else but to help me gain closure and some understanding of how she feels and be able to explain my feelings.

Also, when a support order is in place, will this be seen as me contributing to the marital home? We still owe on the mortgage and if we do end up divorcing, I would like to be paid for my share of the equity in the home. We have done many improvements on the home. How do the courts normally handle dividing the marital home when a mortgage still exists? Is the value of the home at the time of separation or final divorce decree used to divide the share in equity?

Thank you
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:07 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

Elegirl has given you some sound advice. I find it a bit odd that your wife can seek spousal support without filing for divorce. In my state divorce must be filed before going after temporary support. It's really a good idea for you to file for divorce before the hearing and ask for a continuance.

There's little doubt in my mind your wife is cheating. There's also a good chance some cohabitation is occurring. Her "coworker" wouldn't just leave his wife and family unless he was fully involved with your wife. Right now your best protection is to file for divorce. You can suspend it at any time--if/when your wife gets out of the fog.
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

Your wife is not filing for divorce. She is still married to you. She is cheating on you. The marriage does not end when spouses move to different houses. A marriage is not over until the divorce is final.

As for you not wanting to file for divorce because you want to reconcile, your filing for divorce would do more to shock her and bring her around to reconcile than just about anything else. Right now she thinks sheís in control. .. this whole bit about her taking you to court for support, refusing to have any contact with you at all shows that.

Right now she could drive up your community debt and then press in court for you to have to pay half of it off. Filing for divorce is a way to protect yourself financially from the damage she could cause you.

You can always stop the divorce if she comes back.

I know that you think she was not cheating before she moved out. She most likely was. The entire scenario you describe is that of a person who is cheating. This behavior is so predictable you can get your clock by it.
[QUOTE=ReadyToChange;541592] So when she files, what can I do to delay the final divorce decree?[ /QUOTE]
You can ask your lawyer to constantly ask for continuances and to do things to drag out the divorce. Heíll know how to do it.

If your wife can get support from you right now without a divorce, itís highly likely that she will not file for a long time. You are the fall back financial plan. If she loses her job she can go back to court and ask the court to hand over 40% of YOUR paycheck to her. And as long as you are still married you will have to. Why would she ever divorce you.. she does not have to see you or talk to you. But she has your paycheck to fall back on.

Take a look at the 180 in my signature block. You need to put pressure on her. The way to do it is to file for divorce yourself and thus show her that you are manning-up and will not let her drain you financially. The more reality can bring into her life, the more likely she will return to you. And if she does not return, you will minimize the damage she can do to you.
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I would also like to ask the judge to require us to attend marital counseling if for nothing else but to help me gain closure and some understanding of how she feels and be able to explain my feelings.
Ask your attorney about this. I donít know that they can force her to do this. But itís worth asking if she will so that you will understand what is happening to your life.

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Originally Posted by ReadyToChange View Post
Also, when a support order is in place, will this be seen as me contributing to the marital home?
No. Itís seen as your wife getting what is due to her.

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Originally Posted by ReadyToChange View Post
We still owe on the mortgage and if we do end up divorcing, I would like to be paid for my share of the equity in the home. We have done many improvements on the home. How do the courts normally handle dividing the marital home when a mortgage still exists? Is the value of the home at the time of separation or final divorce decree used to divide the share in equity?
Either one spouse buys the otherís equity and refinances the house in their own name. Or the house is sold and the equity is divided 50/50 or according to the agreement the spouses come to.

Never, ever, agree to sign the deed over to her but keep the mortgage with your name on it. You would then have no right to the property but owe half of the mortgage. If she refused to pay you would have to pay off ALL of the mortgage but she would have the house. So make sure that if she stays in the house that she refinances it in her name.

Also, are the house payments being made right now? What assurance do you have that she is making them? You need to know whether or not they are being paid. The court could order you to pay half of the house payments while she lives in the house since itís community debt. Thatís another topic that you need to talk to your attorney about.
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

[QUOTE=EleGirl;541938]Your wife is not filing for divorce. She is still married to you. She is cheating on you. The marriage does not end when spouses move to different houses. A marriage is not over until the divorce is final.

As for you not wanting to file for divorce because you want to reconcile, your filing for divorce would do more to shock her and bring her around to reconcile than just about anything else. Right now she thinks sheís in control. .. this whole bit about her taking you to court for support, refusing to have any contact with you at all shows that.

Right now she could drive up your community debt and then press in court for you to have to pay half of it off. Filing for divorce is a way to protect yourself financially from the damage she could cause you.

You can always stop the divorce if she comes back.

I know that you think she was not cheating before she moved out. She most likely was. The entire scenario you describe is that of a person who is cheating. This behavior is so predictable you can get your clock by it.
Quote:
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So when she files, what can I do to delay the final divorce decree?[ /QUOTE]
You can ask your lawyer to constantly ask for continuances and to do things to drag out the divorce. Heíll know how to do it.

If your wife can get support from you right now without a divorce, itís highly likely that she will not file for a long time. You are the fall back financial plan. If she loses her job she can go back to court and ask the court to hand over 40% of YOUR paycheck to her. And as long as you are still married you will have to. Why would she ever divorce you.. she does not have to see you or talk to you. But she has your paycheck to fall back on.

Take a look at the 180 in my signature block. You need to put pressure on her. The way to do it is to file for divorce yourself and thus show her that you are manning-up and will not let her drain you financially. The more reality can bring into her life, the more likely she will return to you. And if she does not return, you will minimize the damage she can do to you.

Ask your attorney about this. I donít know that they can force her to do this. But itís worth asking if she will so that you will understand what is happening to your life.


No. Itís seen as your wife getting what is due to her.


Either one spouse buys the otherís equity and refinances the house in their own name. Or the house is sold and the equity is divided 50/50 or according to the agreement the spouses come to.

Never, ever, agree to sign the deed over to her but keep the mortgage with your name on it. You would then have no right to the property but owe half of the mortgage. If she refused to pay you would have to pay off ALL of the mortgage but she would have the house. So make sure that if she stays in the house that she refinances it in her name.

Also, are the house payments being made right now? What assurance do you have that she is making them? You need to know whether or not they are being paid. The court could order you to pay half of the house payments while she lives in the house since itís community debt. Thatís another topic that you need to talk to your attorney about.
I don't want to believe that she would choose to be with another person while we are still married so I guess I'm in a state of denial. But, there really isn't anything stopping her from being intimate with another guy. I thought that her deep religious beliefs would supersede her want for the comfort and security of being with someone and she would deal with the situation like an adult. On top of that, this other person is going through a divorce and maybe that helped bring them together in some f*cked up way. I feel as if my wife is pushing me away and maybe it is because she's hurt or scared but I have stopped all contact with her since I was served with a letter from her attorney asking for no contact along with the spousal support complaint. I sent her a xmas card with a letter explaining how I felt and that I'm going to move forward with my life even though I feel our marriage is worth trying to reconcile. A few days later I was served with said documents by a constable. And then a few days before xmas my wife txted 'merry christmas' to me which was upsetting for two reasons. 1 - I send her a card and hand written letter and all I get is a merry christmas txt and 2 - she asks for no contact so what the hell gives her the right to make contact! I didn't respond to her txt. Maybe I'm overanalyzing but I am working on myself, seeing the future with hope, living in the moment and doing things to better myself and my life.

I don't think bringing her current relationship as a grounds for divorce would hold up in PA since i've read on numerous sites that any activity after separation can't be used.

If were to file, what would be the reason? Irretrievable breakdown?

There are still things in our house that I need to retrieve.

I no longer help with the mortgage since we split our checking accounts. But I do want to seek an equitable distribution of the property since a lot has been invested into the home during our marriage. The complicated piece of the house is that my wife purchased the house 2 years before we married. The house was purchased from her great aunt at a very low price - $89K. No improvements were made until after we married and no appraisal was done at the time of our marriage. My lawyer has said that normally a judge would just use the original appraisal at the time the home was purchased in order to calculate the value at the time of our marriage. I would like to have the home appraised since my wife wants to keep the home and so that we can figure out the current value so that I can recoup monies that I have put towards the home. The current estimates on the value of the home is about 170K. Does this approach seem logical?

I would be very surprised if she were to create any unnecessary debt, but I will ask my lawyer how to insulate myself from this happening.

Thank you so much for your advice. I have been following the 180 plan, but I just didn't know it
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:54 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Spousal Support Hearing on Monday :(

The way you insulate yourself from additional debt is by filing for divorce. When you do this, in most states anyway, automatic restraining orders kick in which prevent taking on of new debt, selling or disposing of property, and also prevent taking children out of state without permission of the court. This is why that advice was given by EleGirl earlier.
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