Mother and Daughter Walking together holding hands

Financial Factors Considered When Determining Spousal & Child Support

By Michael DiFalco

Divorce, separation, and breakups often mean that two parties who previously worked to support one household are now required to support themselves and/or their children in two separate household. Spousal and child support is intended to ensure that the financial burdens are fairly allocated so the spouse with less income receives support and the children are adequately supported.

When pursuing either spousal or child support, there are several factors the court will consider when determining whether either spouse or parent is entitled to such support. This is definitely an area that most potential clients have questions about and this summary outlines some of the issues that are considered in determining spousal and child support.

What is spousal support/maintenance?

Spousal support/maintenance, or alimony, is a regular payment one spouse makes to the other either during the divorce process or after the divorce is finalized. There are three types of spousal support: temporary, rehabilitative, and post-divorce. 

Spousal support is temporary when one spouse pays the other during the divorce process, with payments ending after the divorce is final or continuing permanently if the judge decides.

The court will often grant rehabilitative spousal support when there is a significant disparity between the spouses’ incomes, especially if one party stopped working to take care of children or otherwise support the other spouse’s career. It is temporary and allows the receiving spouse some time to get on their feet.

Post-divorce spousal support begins after the divorce is over. There are guidelines to help determine the length of time the receiving spouse is entitled to alimony payments based on the length of the marriage and multiple other factors.

Factors Used to Determine Spousal Support

When determining the details regarding alimony, the judge will examine various financial factors, including:

  • Present and future income of both spouses
  • Present and future earning capacity of both spouses
  • The property and assets including what is being equitably distributed
  • Whether one spouse took time off from the workforce or gave up career advancement opportunities (by being a stay-at-home parent, for example)
  • Whether the couple has children and the determination of child support
  • Whether the spouse seeking maintenance will eventually be able to support themselves

In addition to financial factors, the court will use other details, including the length of the marriage and both spouses’ age and health.

What is child support?

Child support is money one parent pays the other for the care and maintenance of their child. Typically, the parent that spends less time with the child, the non-custodial parent, pays the primary parent, the custodial parent, child support. Child support is also available for parents splitting custody 50/50 with the party who earns more being deemed the non-custodial parent for child support purposes.

In New York child support is paid until the child reaches the age of 21. Support payments may stop if a child emancipates at an earlier age or:

  • Gets married
  • Joins the military
  • Works full time

Additionally, child support may extend past 21 if the child is in school full time if the parties agree. 

Under a new provision in the law, if a child has certain disabilities which limit their ability to become self-supporting even as an adult, including autism for example, the child may be entitled to support until age 26. 

Factors Used to Determine Child Support

The court will use several factors to determine which parent is entitled to receive child support. The financial factors include:

  • Both parents incomes
  • Whether there is a disparity in the parents incomes
  • Tax consequences for each parent

The judge will consider other factors, including:

  • The child’s needs
  • The standard of living the child has enjoyed during the relationship
  • The non-monetary contributions of each parent

Child support is one of the most common issues that needs to be addressed in a divorce or breakup.

A New York Family Law Attorney Can Help with Complex Support Matters

Aiello & DiFalco focus their practice exclusively on family law matters. While our main office is in Garden City, we’re proud to serve families in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties — as well as all of New York City. 

Our firm understands that spousal and child support are necessary obligations, and we have the experience and resources to help you pursue either type of support or to address your potential obligations to pay such support. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled New York family law attorneys.

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.