Spousal maintenance, as alimony is called in New York, is a series of payments one makes to their former spouse during or after a divorce. Its purpose is to enable the recipient to maintain the same standard of living he or she did during the marriage, as well as help them financially as he or she gets the training and skills needed to support him or herself. Generally speaking, a significant difference must exist between the incomes of both spouses before a maintenance award will be granted to the lower-earning party.

Maintenance Types

There are different categories of spousal maintenance in New York, each one structured to meet a certain set of circumstances.

  • Temporary: Temporary maintenance, or Pendente Lite, is paid to cover a spouse’s reasonable financial needs while a divorce is pending. It ends after a judge issues a final order of maintenance.
  • Rehabilitative: This form of maintenance supports one spouse until they re-enter the workforce. In instances where rehabilitation is unlikely, such as when that spouse is disabled and unable to support themselves, then the support may become permanent.
  • Restitutional: If one spouse was the primary breadwinner while the other was being educated or trained for a job, he or she may be entitled to temporary restitutional maintenance.
  • Permanent: This type of maintenance is paid until the receiving spouse dies or remarries.

How spousal maintenance is determined in New York

As of 2016, temporary, pre-divorce maintenance is calculated using two mathematical formulas. The first subtracts 20% of the higher earner’s income from 25% of the other spouse’s income. The second subtracts the recipient’s income from 40% of the sum total of both incomes. The lower result of the two tends to become the maintenance award.

The courts take a number of factors into account when determining permanent spousal maintenance amounts and conditions. They include:

  • How long the couple was married
  • Their standard of living prior to separation
  • Each spouse’s income as well as earning potential
  • The age of each spouse as well as their overall health
  • What each person has in terms of debts and assets
  • Which spouse will have primary custody of the children
  • The reasonable needs of the spouse who is more dependent financially
  • The ability of the higher-earning spouse to pay

Many factors come into effect when judges determine spousal maintenance, so any couple who has made the decision to divorce should each consult an experienced New York spousal maintenance attorney. When money is involved, divorce proceedings are notoriously complex, so expert legal representation and support are strongly recommended. That way each spouse will be in a better position to get the resources they need to move on with their separate lives. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY lawyer who regularly handles family law and divorce cases involving spousal maintenance. He has over 33 years of experience practicing law and offers free in-office consultations.  Call 718-514-6619 to set up an appointment and visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to leave an online message for his office.