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.
Douglas Family 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.
Our New York attorneys are here to help.
What Is Spousal Maintenance and Spousal Support?
You may hear terms like “spousal support” or “alimony” in other states when spousal maintenance is being mentioned by people when discussing divorce matters. While you might hear people using the terms interchangeably, they refer to different items in New York.
It is a payment awarded by the court to one spouse while the marriage is still in place. The spouses may be separated and preparing to divorce during the awarding of spousal support. However, it can occur at any time one spouse fails to meet a financial obligation to the other spouse.
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.
If you hire our highly experienced and skilled team of maintenance lawyers at Douglas Family Law Group, we can answer all your questions about the legal aspects of divorce or any confusing terminology.
Call us today at 914-615-9058 to learn more.
Types of Spousal Support in New York
In New York, there are 4 types of spousal support (maintenance).
Temporary maintenance is also known as “pendente lite” maintenance and it is where the spouse with the higher salary/income is required to pay the spouse with the lower salary/income until the divorce has been finalized.
Permanent maintenance, on the other hand, is a type of spousal support that involves paying a former spouse for an indefinite period or until financial conditions change. It is aimed at providing financial support such as food and housing.
Rehabilitative maintenance is a temporary form of monetary support that’s usually given until the spouse in need has regained their financial support. Simply put it is used to help that spouse support themselves while starting a new career or getting an education.
Restitution maintenance is a temporary form of repayment for having provided financial support to one spouse for the duration of their vocational education and training. A key point of concern is whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce. It determines the financial lifestyle of both parties.
Will Spousal Support 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 that 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 to schedule a consultation with our experienced maintenance lawyers.
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 the court-ordered spousal maintenance, however, can result in devastating consequences. That’s why you should always approach the matter of avoiding paying with careful consideration of the facts surrounding your divorce.
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 for reducing your exposure to spousal maintenance without breaking the law, you should consider getting in touch with the maintenance lawyers at Douglas Family Law Group.
Call us at 914-615-9058 to schedule a consultation with our experienced legal team.
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 she/he decides that it would the guideline support would be unfair.
The court also looks at the factors below 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 occupations of the parties and their incomes
- The opportunity for the parties 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.
If you need a maintenance lawyer in New York, look no further. At Douglas Family Law Group, we put the need of our clients first and do everything possible to help you navigate the courts and establish the best maintenance settlement for you and your former spouse.
Call us today at 914-615-9058 to learn more!
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.
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 annually while that of the payee is $60,000, spousal support would be determined by subtracting $12,500 (25% of $50,000) from $20,000 (20% of $100,000) for a total of $7,500.
Spousal support is usually paid monthly, which means this amount would be divided into 12 equal monthly payments of $625 in the example above.
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 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. The spousal support awarded is the lesser of the two amounts.
Using the above example, spousal support would be calculated by subtracting $10,000 (20% of $50,000) from $30,000 (30% of $100,000), for a total of $20,000.
40% of the sum of both parties’ income will be calculated and the payee’s income will be subtracted from this amount. If the total is less than the amount determined using the above calculations, this will be the amount that the payee receives.
In the above example, 40% of the couple’s combined income is $60,000 (40% of $150,000), and subtracting the payee’s income from this amount results in $10,000.
So, in a situation where the payor will also be paying child support, the annual amount of spousal support will be $7,500 while in other instances, spousal support will be limited to $10,000 annually or monthly payments of $833.33.
New York law also imposes an income cap. The Maintenance Guidelines Act has set the income cap at $203,000 as of March 1, 2022. The income cap is changed every 2 years in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.
An income cap means that if the payor’s income or the couple’s combined net income is higher than $203,000, the spousal support calculation will be based on all income up to the cap of $203,000. This is something to keep in mind when seeking spousal support.
When Can I Stop Paying Maintenance?
Maintenance in New York can be either “durational” or “non-durational” depending on circumstances specific to your case. The court typically orders durational maintenance for a fixed period, often in instances where the recipient spouse can become self-supporting after a few years.
Courts in New York typically determine the duration of maintenance using the following guidelines.
- Marriages that last 0 to 15 years: Support should last 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage.
- Marriages lasting 15 to 20 years: Support should last 30% to 40% of the length of the marriage.
- Marriages lasting over 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.
How Do I Find the Best Divorce Lawyer for My Case?
The search for a good divorce lawyer can be particularly frustrating since there are so many Maintenance Lawyers available in New York. Still, it’s well worth the effort. A divorce has a significant impact on your life and you obviously want the best possible outcome,
Here are 7 qualities to look for when considering divorce lawyers in New York.
Find a self-confident lawyer. If your lawyer lacks faith in their abilities, then the outcome of your case will likely not be in your favor. Furthermore, confidence usually coincides with the lawyer’s trial experience and success rate, which is why it is important to also consider those factors.
Experience is a must-have trait for any lawyer, particularly during a divorce. The lawyer should have the right academic credentials, along with an extensive track record of working with divorce clients and going to trial.
It can also be helpful if the lawyer has experience with other types of family law cases, such as the distribution of assets, child support, and child custody. A divorce lawyer with a strong record of experience can provide knowledgeable feedback and help you make better decisions regarding the case.
A lawyer might be very good, but they aren’t helpful if they are not responsive. A great divorce lawyer should take the time to answer all your questions and provide information when you need it. The lawyer’s staff should also be responsive to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Communication between you and the lawyer can only be effective if the lawyer is willing to communicate with you. Whether you communicate face-to-face, on the phone, or via email, it is important for them to keep all communication channels open.
The lawyer should also have excellent communication skills in the courtroom for them to express your concerns to the judge. To do that effectively, the lawyer must first communicate with you to understand your concerns.
Organization and Reliability
You should always look for a lawyer that’s reliable and organized. Such a lawyer stays on top of important tasks and dates, giving you court dates and other information as quickly as possible. It’s always frustrating when a lawyer misplaces files or paperwork, so a tidy office is also helpful.
Communication skills and responsiveness are obviously important, but negotiation skills are also important. A lawyer might be great at communicating within the courtroom but still be a poor negotiator. A good negotiator exercises diplomacy and learns what your spouse wants in a settlement while staying firm on the issues that matter the most to you.
Perseverance is one of the most important traits to look for in a lawyer. A New York divorce lawyer might appear eager to take on your case at first, but their effort and communication slowly fade as the case progresses.
A great divorce lawyer should have a track record of determination and perseverance, focusing on your goals for the case from start to finish, without ever giving up the pursuit of obtaining the desired verdict or settlement.
One of the most important decisions you will have to make regarding your divorce is your choice of lawyer, so ensure that you look for the qualities listed here and hire a lawyer who’s the right fit for your situation.
Fortunately, you don’t have to look far for such a maintenance lawyer. If you’re looking for a good divorce lawyer to represent you, Douglas Family Law Group in White Plains, NY is where you will get one. Call us today at 914-615-9058 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.
Contact Our New York Maintenance Lawyers!
Establishing a fair and workable maintenance or spousal support arrangement requires the assistance of an experienced lawyer that understands the legal criteria along with the subtle nuances that are likely to come into play.
To fully protect a client’s interests and rights under the law, a good lawyer will strive to convince the court whether or not to deviate from the standard formula as may be in the best interest of an individual client.
At Douglas Family Law Group, our White Plains, New York maintenance lawyers assist clients to establish fair and workable spousal agreements, all across the state of New York. Call us today at 914-615-9058 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced maintenance lawyers.