Divorce FAQ: Will I Have to Pay Alimony?

One of the first things that many people think about when they decide to get a divorce is alimony. Now known as “spousal support” or "spousal maintenance," alimony is a monthly payment made by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse during and/or after a divorce.

In New York, there are two types of spousal maintenance: temporary maintenance and permanent maintenance. They are calculated differently and one is decided by the court as part of the final decision while the other requires a formal court motion.

Temporary Maintenance in New York

Temporary spousal maintenance is a relatively new form of maintenance in New York, having been implemented in October of 2010. This type of support is paid while the divorce is in process and ends as soon as the divorce is finalized. Unlike permanent maintenance, temporary maintenance is not automatically decided by the court. The lower-earning spouse must file a motion with the court to request temporary maintenance.

How Temporary Maintenance Is Calculated

The formula for temporary maintenance is very simple. It is the lowest total of the following two formulas:

  1. Subtract 20% of the lower-earning spouse’s income from 30% of the higher-earning spouse’s income.
  2. Subtract the lower-earning spouse’s income from 40% of both spouse’s incomes combined.

Of these two formulas, whichever total is lower is the amount of temporary support to be paid until the divorce is finalized.

Permanent Maintenance in New York

Compared to temporary maintenance, permanent spousal maintenance is much more difficult to calculate. This is because the court considers 20 different factors and makes their decision based on that information. These factors are:

  1. The income and assets of both parties
  2. How long the two parties were married
  3. The age and health of both parties
  4. The earning capacity of both parties (including future capacity)
  5. Any one party’s need for education or training
  6. Any pre-marital joint households or pre-divorce separate households
  7. Any actions by one or both parties that have inhibited a party’s earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment
  8. The ability of the lower-earning party to become self-supportive
  9. Any reduced or lost earning capacity by one party due to delayed or foregone education, training, etc. during the marriage
  10. Children of the marriage in the homes of one or both parties
  11. Care of any children, elders, or other dependents that has inhibited one party’s earning capacity
  12. Any one party’s inability to obtain meaningful employment by being out of the workforce
  13. Schooling, day care, medical care, and other exceptional expenses for the child / children
  14. Tax consequences for each party
  15. Equitable distribution of the marital property
  16. Marital contributions of the party seeking maintenance, including spousal duties, wages, parental duties, and homemaking, as well as contributions to the career or career potential of the other party
  17. Any wasteful dissipation of marital property by one or both parties
  18. The transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration
  19. Any loss of health or other benefits caused by the dissolution of the marriage
  20. Any other factors deemed just and proper by the court

Because these factors are somewhat subject to interpretation and to the decision of a judge (not just a calculator), it is important to have an experienced Dutchess County divorce attorney on your side to ensure that your spousal maintenance order is just and fair. Call the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC today to request a consultation and find out how the firm can help you.

Call a Dutchess County Family Lawyer – (845) 605-4330

Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge needed to make excellent decisions during your divorce process. We will keep you informed and educated every step of the way and will work hard toward the best possible outcome for your case. Speak with a Beacon divorce lawyer today to discuss your unique situation and learn more about spousal maintenance in New York.

Contact us today at (845) 605-4330 to request your consultation!

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