The Pennsylvania Alimony Chart (Or – Why to Hire a Good Attorney)

Attorney Jones and her client Mr. Bob walk into the conference room at Attorney Jones’ Connecticut law office. They are expecting to take Mrs. Bob’s deposition today; and they have hired a court stenographer to record the proceedings.  Mrs. Bob is sitting there, alone, with a manila folder of papers on the table in front of her.

Attorney Jones asks Mrs. Bob, “Where is your lawyer?”

Mrs. Bob has decided to represent her self.  She is angry and she is not putting up with any malarkey, she tells them.

Mrs. Bob does not wait to be sworn in, or for the deposition to begin, she just starts telling Attorney Jones what she wants to say.

It is a long rant.  He was never a good husband.  The house is not big enough; the cars are not new enough. She suspects him of an affair, although she has no evidence. There are no minor children, fortunately.  They have been married five years and have both had jobs the entire time.

Under Connecticut law, Mrs. Bob is probably not entitled to alimony, although she might be allotted some, depending on each party’s earning capacity.  There should be an equal asset split/debt split, depending on the circumstances.  Mrs. Bob doesn’t know any of this.  All she knows is she has a friend who gets a lot of alimony and child support every month, so she wants alimony.

Finally, Mrs. Bob gets to her point, “I want him to pay me $1000 per month in alimony for 5 years,” she says.

“What?!”  Attorney Jones and Mr. Bob both say in unison, shocked because they both know what the law in Connecticut recommends in this type of matter.

“I looked it up on the alimony chart,” Mrs. Bob says as she starts fumbling through her folder.  “Here,” she adds as she pulls out a complicated looking chart full of numbers.

Attorney Jones takes the chart and points out that it is a Pennsylvania Alimony chart – there is no such thing as an alimony chart in Connecticut – and that Mrs. Bob has read it wrong, anyway, since the numbers she used did not include her own salary.

They cancel the deposition.  Attorney Jones gives Mrs. Bob a list of attorneys she knows who are reasonable and fair in helping parties mediate an uncontested divorceThey decide to wait two weeks and try again once Mrs. Bob has a chance to get some good legal advice.

What We Love:  There is a real fear of attorneys in the world:  ravenous sharks who want nothing more than to increase the length of your divorce to line their own pockets.  And, yes, those sharks exist.  But, happily, they are only one species of attorney. Plenty of reasonable people graduated law school with the purpose of helping make the world a better place. Get an attorney – they know the law! Just find one who wants your divorce to be a small blip in your life; not a catastrophe.


Published by Sharon Oberst DeFala

Sharon Oberst DeFala has practiced low-impact safe divorce since 1992.

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