Do I Have To Pay Support Before The Divorce Is Initiated?

child supportQuestion:

I recently separated from my wife after five years of marriage and she is pursuing child and spousal support.

I received documentation from her attorney stating I owe $1,000 per month in spousal support and another $800 in child support. That is well more than I can reasonably afford.

Do I have to pay this support even though we are not divorced yet? And how is it possible that the payments are that high?


Please note that I am licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and will answer your question based on my knowledge and experience in Pennsylvania.

With respect to your support matter, in Pennsylvania, if the parties are living separate and apart, the dependent spouse can apply for support regardless of whether the divorce action has been initiated.

Philadelphia Divorce Attorney Jaimie Collins
Philadelphia Divorce Attorney Jaimie Collins

In certain cases, it is an option to argue that the opposing party should be imputed an earning capacity, beyond his or her actual earnings, taking into consideration his or her education level, former positions of employment, age, etc. If the parties are still residing together, so long as the higher wage earner is contributing to the marital bills, the dependent spouse will not be awarded support in this state.

In Pennsylvania, child support is calculated first, with spousal support then 30% of the remaining difference in the parties’ respective incomes. Online support calculators can give you a general idea of how much you will have to pay, but they sometimes fail to take into consideration many variables, including taxes, healthcare costs, union or mandatory retirement deductions, additional expenses for the child such as private school education or extracurricular activities, etc.

You should consult with an attorney barred in your state to discuss the facts of your case and your state’s approach to support matters.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Pennsylvania divorce lawyer Jaimie Collins, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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Shawn Garrison is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell & Cordell UK. He has written countless pieces dealing with the unique child custody and divorce issues that men and fathers face. Through his work on,, and, Mr. Garrison has become an authority on the complexities of the legal experience and was a content creator for the YouTube series “Dad’s Divorce Live” and additional videos on both the Dad’s Divorce and Cordell & Cordell YouTube channels. Mr. Garrison has managed the sites of these customers, and fostered the creation of several of their features, including the Cordell & Cordell attorney and office pages, the Dad’s Divorce Newsletter, and the Cordell & Cordell newsletter.

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