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Can My Spouse Be Denied Maintenance in New York?


In New York, spouses who are married have a legal obligation to support each other as long as they are still married to one another. If a married couple is still married to each other but they’re getting a divorce, the higher-earning spouse can be ordered to pay spousal support until the marriage ends. As long as a couple is married, spousal support can be indefinite. Meaning, the court does not impose a time limit for how long it has to be paid.

Once a couple is officially divorced, the spousal support either ends or it changes names and is then called “maintenance.” In New York, the Supreme Court issues decisions about maintenance in divorce cases. If spousal support is awarded by a family court before a divorce case is filed in the Supreme Court, the spousal support ends once the divorce is finalized unless the divorce case specifically says that the spousal support shall convert or continue as “maintenance.”

If you’re the higher earner, you may be wondering if there are any reasons why your spouse would be denied maintenance once the divorce is entered. Read on as we explore this further.

Why Maintenance Could Be Denied

When it comes to maintenance, a judge may deny it simply because the spouse asking for it doesn’t need it, or because the higher-earning spouse can’t afford it. If one spouse does not have the property or income to pay maintenance and the other spouse is capable of working, a judge may deny the request for maintenance. Aside from those reasons, here are some other reasons why a judge may deny a request for maintenance:

  • The marriage was very short and it doesn’t seem fair to award maintenance
  • The lower-earning spouse has an excellent earning capacity
  • The spouse asking for maintenance was physically abusive
  • The children will be living with the paying spouse
  • The requesting spouse wasted marital assets on an affair, by gambling, or by going on a shopping spree out of revenge, etc.
  • The requesting spouse tried to hide or transfer marital assets to cheat their husband or wife out of their fair share

We hope you found this information useful. If you need legal representation in a divorce case, contact the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC.