Alimony Lawyer Serving the Bronx Community

Spousal maintenance is intended to provide financial assistance to a husband or wife during and/or after a divorce. These payments help ensure that they have the resources they need to maintain a standard of living similar to that which they enjoyed while married. In New York, there are four primary spousal maintenance arrangements.

  • Temporary: Support paid while the divorce is in progress. Once the decree is issued, temporary maintenance ends and may be replaced by permanent maintenance.
  • Rehabilitative: Financial assistance is provided only until the recipient spouse has been given a reasonable opportunity to get the education or training needed to obtain employment.
  • Terminable: The support ends on a specific date, usually after a number of payments have been made.
  • Permanent: Support payments are made indefinitely because the recipient spouse, due to disability, age, and/or limited education and job skills, cannot become self-sufficient enough to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

Which type will be ordered in any given divorce depends on what the spouses agree to or the court deems fair under the circumstances.

How Do New York Spousal Support (Alimony) Laws Work?

Spousal support can be one of the most challenging aspects of finalizing a divorce. Spousal support is the monetary payment from one spouse to another spouse. The purpose of spousal support is to help the spouse with fewer financial resources maintain a lifestyle similar to the one he or she has during the marriage. The purpose of spousal support is not to punish a spouse or reward the other spouse. 

The goal is to help the spouse receive support temporarily until he or she can receive the training and/or education to earn an income. In some marriages, one spouse works while the other spouse contributes to the marriage in non-financial ways, such as by raising children or taking care of the home. In these situations, the court may choose to award spousal support for a more extended period. 

Factors That Go Into Spousal Support Determinations

Every spousal support case is unique, and the court will decide on the appropriate amount and duration of spousal support based on several different factors, including the following:

  • The age, physical, and mental health of each party
  • The source of income and occupation of both parties
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The assets and debts acquired during the marriage
  • The care for the children resulting from the marriage
  • The future income of both parties
  • The present earning capacity of both parties
  • Each spouse’s share of the marital property as divided by the court
  • Whether a spouse needs to incur educational or job training expenses
  • The existence of a joint household before the marriage or a separate household before the divorce
  • Any acts by one spouse against the other spouse that could inhibit the other spouse’s earning capacity or ability to obtain a job
  • The ability of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance to become self-supporting, and the training and time it will require
  • Whether the spouse seeking maintenance has lost lifetime earning capacity because they have delayed or forgone employment, training, or education during the marriage
  • Where the spouses’ children live
  • Any exceptional, additional expenses for the children, such as for children with special needs 
  • The tax consequences to each party
  • The loss, availability, and cost of health insurance 
  • Any other factor the court deems just and proper to awarding spousal maintenance 

Temporary Support

New York recognizes several different types of spousal support, including temporary, durational, and permanent support. The type of support cords will authorize depends on their analysis of the factors mentioned above. Judges have the authority to order temporary spousal support that will continue while the divorce is pending. 

After the court finalizes the divorce, the temporary maintenance order will end. The judge deciding on the case will issue a final order on spousal support. The judge does not have to order ongoing spousal support just because they have already issued an order for temporary support. However, judges can choose to issue an order for durational support after the finalization of the divorce.

Durational Support

Durational support refers to a spousal support order for a fixed period of time. For example, a judge may give a dependent spouse two years of spousal support so he or she can finish a vocational program and obtain employment. In that case, once the two years is up, the supporting spouse’s obligation to pay child support ends.

Permanent Support

Permanent child support orders are more rare today than they were in the past because in many marriages both spouses work outside of the home. However, judges will issue permanent support orders in some cases, especially when one of the spouses has decided to stay home and take care of the home and children instead of pursuing a career. The longer the couple has been married, the more likely the court will order permanent support. The paying spouse is obligated to pay with permanent support orders until the dependent spouse marries or passes away.

Modifying a Spousal Support Order?

What happens when the financial circumstances of one or both spouses change? In New York, either spouse can petition the court to modify the spousal support order. The spouse requesting a modification can ask the court to increase, decrease, or stop spousal support payments. Modifications often involve an increase or decrease in either spouse’s income, increased cost of living, or a disability or illness that affects either spouse.

Adultery and Spousal Support

Although some states consider adultery to be an automatic bar to an alimony award, cheating on a spouse is not typically considered when courts award spousal maintenance. However, suppose a spouse engaging in extramarital affairs and, in doing so, squanders marital assets on his or her love interest. In that case, the court may add that property or money back into the marital estate resulting in a larger portion of the marital estate being awarded to the spouse who did not engage in adultery. 

Contact Us to Schedule Your Initial Consultation to Discuss Your Case

Divorce proceedings are complicated and can be highly emotional. Working with an attorney who can help you navigate the process can help you protect your interest and understand all of your legal options. Contact the Law Offices of Jayson Lutzky today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about your legal options.