Can Husbands Receive Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)?

By Michael DiFalco

If you are facing a potential divorce, you may be entitled to spousal maintenance (alimony). Many people are curious about whether a husband may be entitled to spousal support. Husbands in New York can receive spousal support just like wives when applicable based on the parties’ incomes and financial circumstances. 

Of course, with same-sex couples, a husband (or a wife in a same-sex couple) can also be eligible for spousal maintenance. The spousal support laws are gender-neutral.

What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance, commonly referred to as alimony, is an agreement or court order requiring one spouse to pay the other an amount of money, typically each month. It is intended to be “rehabilitative” in nearly all applicable cases, meaning it should be determined to be paid in an amount and duration to provide for a spouse’s needs until they are able to become self-supporting.

Parties Must be Current or Former Spouses

Spousal maintenance orders are only valid between current or former spouses. This means unwed couples are ineligible for spousal support payments, no matter how long they’ve lived together. There is no such thing as “palimony” in New York.

Written Agreement or Court Order

A written agreement or court order is essential for a payment to be considered spousal maintenance. Voluntarily sending money to an ex-spouse without an order or agreement is considered to be a voluntary gift and not spousal maintenance.

Who is entitled to spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is available for the spouse who will likely need financial help to rebuild their life after the divorce. For example, if a husband was making far less than his wife or was a stay-at-home father, it is possible their spouse will have to pay the husband spousal support payments. We have obtained spousal maintenance awards for husbands and negotiated spousal support obligations on behalf of spouses who have significantly higher incomes.

How is spousal maintenance calculated?

Spousal maintenance/alimony in New York is calculated based on a formula applied to the parties’ respective incomes on the first $203,000 in income for the higher-earning spouse. When income exceeds that cap, additional factors must be analyzed. 

Further, when calculating spousal maintenance — which is calculated apart from child support — the court will take into consideration a variety of factors, including:

  • Each party’s incomes and/or earning potential
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age and health of the spouses
  • Child custody & child support 
  • Loss of benefits such as health insurance due to the divorce

Since maintenance is such a complicated issue, you need a seasoned divorce who understands how spousal maintenance is often determined by courts or negotiated between the parties.

Temporary Support

Additionally, temporary orders of support are often awarded during the negotiations or while the litigation is pending to maintain the essential needs of the spouse who needs financial support. Temporary orders cease upon the finalization of the divorce and are routinely converted into post-divorce maintenance determinations. Most initial divorce papers filed by a party will contain a request for spousal maintenance, so the court usually determines that spousal support should be paid starting with that initial request and applies the spousal maintenance award retroactively. 

How long does spousal maintenance last?

Typically, the duration of spousal maintenance is determined based on the length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the longer the duration of maintenance. There are a number of factors that might be considered, including the age of the parties, the age of any children, the time spent out of the workforce, potential retirement ages, and of course the health of the parties. 

There are rare cases where maintenance is determined to be “permanent” meaning it is payable for life because a party is likely to be unable to become self-supporting in the future. Such cases typically involve major health or other issues preventing a party from working.


If a person entitled to spousal maintenance (alimony) gets remarried, then the person paying the support can apply to the court to terminate their support obligation. Most divorce agreements contain provisions regarding the termination of maintenance upon remarriage of the payee spouse.  Upon proof that the payee has remarried, the court must terminate the payment agreement or order.

Unmarried Cohabitation with Another

If the payee is not married but cohabiting with another and holding themselves out as that person’s spouse, or if the parties have an agreement that provides for a more precise definition of “cohabit”, then the court may terminate the alimony payments. 

Is Spousal Maintenance Taxable?

Under current federal law, new spousal maintenance or alimony obligations are no longer tax-deductible to the payor or taxable income to the payee. New York State still provides for tax deductions and treats the payments as taxable to the recipient. Most parties must negotiate or seek a judicial determination as to how these tax impacts should be considered in determining the amount of maintenance to be paid.

Advocating for Your Rights in a Divorce

Aiello & DiFalco LLP has been a staunch advocate for numerous clients dealing with complex divorce issues, including spousal maintenance for husbands and wives in various situations. We can help guide you through this process to ensure that you receive what is fair or that your obligations to pay alimony are dealt with properly. 

If you would like to discuss your particular situation, please contact us with your questions and concerns. We are located in Garden City, NY, and represent clients from Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, as well as New York City.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.