Support Disagreements When There Is No Court Order

spousal supportQuestion:

I am currently paying the state calculated suggested child support amount for one child voluntarily, not by court order.

My spouse has also asked me for post-separation spousal support and I came up with what I thought was a fair amount, but she disagrees. What are my best courses of action to be fair to both parties?

I also feel my spouse is capable of finding a job to increase her income but has chosen not to do so.


While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and cannot give you legal advice, I can give some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.

Where I do practice in Pennsylvania, both child support and spousal support can be agreed upon without the entry of a court order. When the court determines the support one spouse pays to the other (especially when a child is involved), there are several factors and credits under the law that can determine the final amount — including but not limited to the custody arrangement, payment for medical insurance premiums, and even payment of the mortgage for the marital residence.

Cordell & Cordell Pennsylvania divorce attorney William Phelan, IV
Cordell & Cordell Pennsylvania divorce attorney William Phelan, IV

Despite what some may believe, coming to such a final support amount isn’t as simple as looking at the income of the parties. On top of all of these factors, there are legal arguments that can be made in Pennsylvania that directly impact a final support amount — including but not limited to consideration of whether one of the spouses is purposefully not earning as much as she can, thus requiring assignment of an earning capacity to that spouse.

Therefore, in Pennsylvania, when parties attempt to agree upon a “fair” support amount, it should be known how all of the aforementioned factors and legal arguments (and then some) can play into what is proposed and what is ultimately stipulated to. Seeking legal counsel to go over such factors and arguments is a good way to ensure that a fair resolution is reached.

Due to the extremely fact-specific nature of this situation, I would strongly suggest you contact an attorney who handles family law matters in your jurisdiction, such as Cordell & Cordell, to see how your state’s laws can help you with this serious situation.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Pennsylvania divorce lawyer William J. Phelan, IV, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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