Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance can be a highly contentious issue in a divorce. Fortunately, our New York maintenance lawyers have extensive experience in these matters and offer detail-oriented, results-focused guidance and representation. DouglasFamily Law Group is at the cutting edge of legal service. We advise and represent clients concerning spousal support or maintenance issues throughout White Plains, NY and the surrounding areas. To speak with a maintenance lawyer at our firm, call us today at 914.615.9058.

 

 

 

What is Spousal Maintenance and Spousal Support?

You often hear the terms, “spousal support”, “alimony”, and “maintenance” when people discuss divorce matters. While people tend to use them interchangeably, it is important to know that in New York, they refer to different things.

 

 

 

Spousal Support

Spousal support is a payment awarded by the court to a spouse while the marriage is still in place. The spouses may be separated and preparing to divorce when the spousal support is ordered. It is important to note that spousal support can be ordered at any time one spouse fails to meet a financial obligation to the other spouse.

 

 

 

Maintenance

A New York court can award a spousal maintenance payment once the divorce is official. A spousal support payment made before the divorce may be ordered to continue once the divorce becomes official, becoming a spousal maintenance payment.

 

 

 

Types of Spousal Support in New York

In New York State, there are four types of spousal support.

 

 

Temporary Maintenance

Temporary maintenance, also know as pendente lite maintenance”, is when the higher earning spouse is required to the pay the other spouse until the divorce has been finalized.

 

 

Permanent Maintenance

Permanent maintenance, in contrast to temporary maintenance, is a type of spousal support that involves paying a former spouse for an indefinite period of time or until financial conditions change. It is aimed at providing financial support such as food and housing.

 

 

Rehabilitative Maintenance

Rehabilitative maintenance is a temporary form of monetary support that’s usually given until a spouse has regained their financial independence. Simply put, it is used to help that spouse support themselves while starting a new career or getting an education.

 

 

Restitution Maintenance

Restitution maintenance is a temporary form of repayment for having provided financial support to one spouse for the duration of their vocational education adn training. A key point of concern is whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce. This form of maintenance determines the financial lifestyle of both parties.

 

 

 

Will Spousal Support Always be Awarded?

Not everyone is entitled to spousal support or maintenance. It is usually up to the judge to decide which spouse, if either, is eligible for spousal support or maintenance. In maintenance cases, the former spouse that receives maintenance is known as the dependent spouse and the one who pays is called the supporting spouse.

 

Spousal maintenance is usually only ever awarded if a former spouse is unable to meet their own reasonable financial needs without the other spouse’s income or assets. It is also awarded if a former spouse cannot maintain the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage without the other spouse’s income or assets.

 

New York law requires courts to use a formula to calculate a suggested amount of maintenance. But judges can award a different amount than the guidelines if they feel it is more fair. 

 

If you are attempting to receive maintenance payments from a former spouse, it can be a good idea to contact our White Plains, NY maintenance lawyers at Douglas Family Law Group who can explain your right to spousal support and ensure that you meet any filing deadlines. Call us today at 914-615-9058.

 

 

 

How Do I Reduce my Exposure to Spousal Maintenance

Paying spousal maintenance can constitute a considerable financial strain on the supporting spouse. If the divorce is highly contentious, being required to pay spousal maintenance can feel like rubbing salt into the wound. Not paying paying the court-ordered spousal maintenance, however, can have devastating consequences.

 

Instead of looking for ways to avoid paying spousal maintenance and finding yourself in all kinds of legal trouble, you should look for ways to reduce your exposure to it. Here are some practical and legal methods you can utilize to reduce your exposure to spousal maintenance or support:

 

  • Creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
  • Submitting proof that your former spouse doesn’t require spousal maintenance
  • Proving that your former spouse was unfaithful
  • Filing a fault divorce
  • Giving your former spouse assets as opposed to spousal maintenance.

For more practical steps to redcue your exposure to spousal maintenance without breaking the law, you should consider getting in touch with our maintenance lawyers at Douglas Family Law Group.

 

 

 

How Is Maintenance Determined?

To determine whether spousal support or maintenance is appropriate, the judge will look at the needs of the spouse asking for support and whether the other spouse has the financial ability to provide financial assistance.

 

New York law requires courts to use a formula to calculate temporary maintenance before the divorce is finalized. But the judge can choose to award a different amount if they decide that the calculated support would be unfair.

 

The court also looks at the following factors when making a decision:

 

  • The sources of income
  • The length of your marriage
  • The occupations of the parties and their incomes
  • The age and health of the parties
  • The conduct of the parties during the marriage
  • Any special needs of the parties
  • Employability and vocational skills of the spouses
  • The opportunity for each party to acquire assets and income in the future
  • The existence of a premarital joint household
  • The ability of the receiving spouse to become self-supporting
  • The loss of health insurance benefits as a result of the divorce.

 

 

 

How Much Maintenance Will I Have to Pay?

New York courts use two different formulas for calculating spousal support/maintenance awards or payments depending on whether or not child support will be a factor in the divorce.

 

 

Formula 1

If the non-custodial parent is required to pay both spousal support and child support, the payment will be calculated by taking 20% of the payor’s annual net income and subtracting 25% of the payee’s annual net income.

 

For instance, if the payor’s annual income is $100,000, while the payee is $60,000, spousal support will be determined by subtracting $12,500 (25% of $60,000) from $20,000 (20% of $100,000) for a total of $7,500. Since spousal support is usually paid monthly, this would be divided into 12 equal monthly payments of $625.

 

 

Formula 2

If child support isn’t a factor or when the custodial parent will be paying spousal support to the other spouse, a different formula is used.

 

The payment in this case will be calculated by taking 30% of the payor’s annual net income and subtracting 20% of the payee’s income and comparing this amount to 40% of the couple’s combined income, less the income of the lower-paid spouse. The spousal support awarded will be the lesser of these two amounts.

 

Using the example from formula 1, the spousal support would be calculated by subtracting $12,000 (20% of $60,000) from $30,000 (30% of $100,000), for a total of $18,000.

 

40% of the combined income, $160,000, would be $64,000. When we subtract the lower-paid spouse’s income, $60,000, from $64,000, we get a support payment of $4,000. 

 

We take the lesser of these two calculations, or $4,000, and divide that by 12 to get our monthly payment of $333.33.

 

It is important to note that New York law imposes an income cap. The Maintenance Guidelines Act has set the income cap at $203,000 as of March 1, 2022. This means that if the payor’s income or the couple’s combined income is higher than $203,000, the spousal support calculation is determined based on the income up to $203,000. The income cap is changed every 2 years in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.

 

 

 

How Long Does Maintenance Last?

Maintenance in New York can be either “durational” or “non-durational” depending on the circumstances specific to your case. The court typically orders durational maintenance for a fixed period of time.

 

Courts in New York typically determine the duration of maintenance using the following guidelines:

  • Marriages that last 0-15 years: Support should last 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage.
  • Marriages that last 15-20 years: Support should last 30% to 40% of the length of the marriage.
  • Marriages that last 20+ years: Support should last 35% to 50% of the length of the marriage.

For non-durational support, the decision is usually permanent and does not end until one of the following happens:

  • The payee spouse remarries
  • Either spouse dies
  • The payee spouse habitually lives with a partner while representing that person as a spouse.

 

 

 

What does Spousal Support Pay For?

New York law doesn’t explicitly state what spousal support should be used to pay for, but it is generally expected that it should be used to pay for essentials such as food, mortgage bills, insurance, tuition fees, and anything that improves the welfare and standard of living of the recipient and the couple’s children.

 

 

 

Why Douglas Family Law Group Has the Best Maintenance Lawyers

The search for a good divorce lawyer can be particularly frustrating since there are so many maintenance lawyers available in New York. At Douglas Family Law Group, our attorneys have 7 unique qualities that make them stand out from the rest.

 

 

Confidence

Our lawyers are confident. If your lawyer lacks faith in their abilities, then the outcome of your case will likely not be in your favor. Our lawyer’s confidence coincides with their proven track record and success rate.

 

 

Experience

Experience is a must-have trait for any lawyer, but particularly a divorce lawyer. The lawyer should have the right academic credentials and courtroom track record. Our attorneys all have a strong record of experience and provide knowledgeable feedback to help you make better decisions regarding your case.

 

 

Responsiveness

The confidence and experience is not enough to be a good lawyers. At Douglas Family Law Group, our team is as responsive as it gets. You can rest assured knowing that all of your questions will be addressed and necessary information will be provided when you need it.

 

 

Communication

Communication between you and your lawyer is necessary to have a successful case. At Douglas Family Law Group, we provide regular check-ins between you and your legal team, to make sure you are up-to-date regarding your legal strategy and case updates.

 

 

Organization and Reliability

Organization is key. Your attorneys must stay on top of important tasks and dates. You can be confident in your legal team at Douglas Family Law Group that we will not miss important dates, deadlines, or tasks.

 

 

Negotiation Skills

Our attorneys are great negotiators. They exercise diplomacy and learn what your spouse wants in a settlement while staying firm on the issues that matter most to you.

 

 

Perseverance

Perseverance is one of the most important traits to look for in a lawyer. Our great divorce lawyers have a track record of determination and perseverance, and never give up on the pursuit of obtaining the desired verdict or settlement for your case.

 

Contact our office today at 914.615.9058 to set yourself up with your initial consultation and get started on writing the next chapter of your life on your terms.

50 Main Street Suite 935

White Plains, New York

10606

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