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Under Pennsylvania law, spouses are financially responsible for one another. Thanks to our state equal rights amendment to our state constitution, this works both directions, no longer just having the husband responsible for the wife. Of course, we are talking about usually separated, married, not-yet-divorced couples. (Financial responsibility for an ex-spouse is something that must be settled upon in the divorce, either amicably or by having the judge decide who pays for what in an expensive, contested case.)

Generally speaking, the spouse that has the higher income will bear some financial responsibility for the other. This is called “spousal support” and it continues as long as the couple is married; moreover, it can be modified if circumstances change, like a significant increase or decrease in a spouse’s income, loss of a job, change in the needs of a spouse, for example.

Speaking of a change in the needs of a spouse, this is frequently related to a spouse coming upon a serious medical condition. In cases where such a condition already exists, the court may require one spouse to provide medical insurance for the other, but what it will cost would be figured in when the court arrives at the total support obligation. In other words, once the amount of support is determined, that amount could include the cost of the insurance. The cost of the insurance is not typically added to what is determined to be the required amount of spousal support; however, if an uninsured spouse develops a condition requiring treatment and/or hospitalization, the court could review the established amount of support and consider whether or not an increase is justified and/or possible.