Spousal Support

Spousal support or maintenance, formerly known as “alimony”, refers to money the court can order to be paid in addition to child support, to ensure the dependent spouse will have support after the divorce. It is particularly important for a spouse who may have chosen to stay home to raise the children and thereby given up career opportunities for the better good of the family.  

Whether you are the paying spouse or the dependent spouse, negotiating maintenance requires an in-depth understanding of the couple’s finances and a clear understanding of nuanced spousal support laws.

In accordance with Domestic Relations Law, there are multiple statutory factors that are considered in determining the correct amount and duration of spousal support necessary in each case. They are as follows: 

  1. the age and health of the parties; 
  2. the present or future earning capacity of the parties, including a history of limited participation in the workforce; 
  3. the need of one party to incur education or training expenses; 
  4. the termination of a child support award before the termination of the maintenance award when the calculation of maintenance was based upon child support being awarded and which resulted in a maintenance award lower than it would have been had child support not been awarded; 
  5. the wasteful dissipation of marital property, including transfers or encumbrances made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration; 
  6. the existence and duration of a pre-marital joint household or a pre-divorce separate household; 
  7. acts by one party against another that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a party’s earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment. Such acts include but are not limited to acts of domestic violence as provided in section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law; 
  8. the availability and cost of medical insurance for the parties; 
  9. the care of children or stepchildren, disabled adult children or stepchildren, elderly parents or in-laws provided during the marriage that inhibits a party’s earning capacity; 
  10. the tax consequences to each party; 
  11. the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage; 
  12. the reduced or lost earning capacity of the payee as a result of having forgone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities during the marriage; 
  13. the equitable distribution of marital property and the income or imputed income on the assets so distributed; 
  14. the contributions and services of the payee as a spouse, parent, wage earner and homemaker and to the career or career potential of the other party; and 
  15. any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper. 

The duration of post-divorce maintenance is based upon the length of the marriage. The longer you are married, the longer you will either receive or pay maintenance. 

It is very important to have a knowledgeable attorney to advocate your position given the importance and complexity surrounding these issues. 

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