Spousal support may be at issue in some Pennsylvania divorces. However, it will not automatically be ordered when it is requested. Instead, courts review several factors to help them determine whether spousal support is appropriate. When a judge orders a spouse to pay spousal support, the court’s order can be enforced if the person fails to make the ordered payments.

When is spousal support ordered?

Spousal support is only ordered when a court determines that it is necessary. Judges consider multiple factors when they consider spousal support requests, including the ages of both parties, the length of the marriage, their respective incomes, the tax ramifications, whether a spouse is unable to work because of caring for a young child, and others. If a judge determines that spousal support is appropriate, the court will issue an order specifying the amount that must be paid and the duration of the order.

What happens if a spouse fails to pay court-ordered support?

In some cases, a person who is ordered to pay spousal support refuses to pay the ordered payments. When that happens, the recipient can file a motion for contempt. The court will hold a hearing and may do several things to secure payment of the arrearage, including the following:

• Enter judgment for the arrearage amount.
• Seize the property and profits of the delinquent party to recoup the arrearage.
• Garnish the wages of the delinquent party up to 50%.
• Award interest on the arrearage amount.
• Require collateral to secure future payments.
• Imprison the person for up to six months for civil contempt in cases of willful failure.
• Order the payment of the recipient’s court costs and attorney’s fees.

When a court orders that a person must pay spousal support, failing to comply with the court’s orders can result in contempt proceedings. People who are having trouble making their payments may want to get help with requesting a modification. Those who are owed arrearages may want to talk to an attorney for help with enforcing the order.

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