One of the most complex issues to resolve during a divorce is spousal maintenance/alimony. Negotiating involves formulas, guidelines, and factors that require an experienced divorce attorney to properly protect your rights. Whether you are the spouse seeking alimony or the one who might be expected to pay spousal support, the attorneys at Aiello & DiFalco LLP can help guide you to a fair result.
Our practice is dedicated to helping clients on Long Island and in New York City resolve complicated divorce issues including alimony and spousal maintenance. We have handled thousands of cases and have negotiated and when necessary gone to trial to protect our clients.
While most maintenance cases can be resolved amicably, if necessary our trial lawyers are fully prepared to litigate. Rest assured, we will work to protect your interests at all times. Contact our Garden City office today to schedule a consultation.
How Does Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) Work in New York?
In New York, alimony is referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance. Spousal support can be awarded by the Family Court even when a divorce is not pending. More commonly, spousal support is awarded by the divorce court. While a divorce action is pending, the divorce court can determine temporary spousal support. In a final agreement or after a trial, the issue of post-divorce alimony must be resolved.
Spousal maintenance is now based on a formula, as well as a series of factors. The formula currently applies to the first $203,000 of the payor spouse’s income. The formula provides for a higher amount of spousal support if there is no child support being paid, or a slightly lower amount of spousal maintenance if child support is being paid simultaneously.
Essentially, the formula compares the parties’ respective incomes to determine if the disparity in incomes requires support to be paid.
If a party’s income exceeds $203,000, there are 17 factors which may be considered in determining whether additional spousal maintenance/alimony should be paid. Understanding these factors and how the courts consider them in high-income cases is critical to ensuring that the party seeking alimony receives what they are entitled to. Knowing how courts view high-income cases is just as important when protecting the rights of the payor spouse.
Temporary Spousal Maintenance
The court may award temporary spousal support or pendente lite relief to the spouse with lower or no income so that they can pay their expenses during the divorce process. Notably, temporary spousal support ends once the divorce is finalized.
Unless the parties have a prenuptial agreement in place or reach an agreement about spousal maintenance/alimony, the court will determine whether to award post-divorce spousal support. Nearly all post-divorce awards are durational, meaning they are paid for a period of time. In some cases, maintenance can be awarded on a permanent basis.
- Durational spousal maintenance – This type of alimony is paid for a fixed time after the divorce. Durational spousal maintenance is considered rehabilitative and it is intended to allow the receiving spouse to get back into the workforce, or to obtain training or additional education. It is intended to give a party time to become self-supporting.
- Permanent spousal maintenance – This type of alimony is only awarded in long marriages or if the receiving spouse is unable to work due to illness or disability.
When determining post-divorce maintenance, the court will consider a variety of factors to arrive at a final award, including:
- The income, employment history, education and employability of the spouses
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and health of both spouses
- The ability of the receiving spouse to become self-supporting
- Whether children from the marriage live in the marital home,
- The age of the children and need to care for young children
- The need to care for other adult family members
- Contributions to the marriage by the receiving spouse, for example, if they were a homemaker and did not receive income
- Any other factors the court deems relevant
You can depend on Aiello and DiFalco to determine whether you are eligible for spousal maintenance or the amount you may be required to pay and help you reach an agreement that works for both parties.
How New York Courts Determine Spousal Maintenance/Alimony
The courts rely on a formula to calculate the amount of temporary and post-divorce spousal maintenance. In addition, there is a formula to determine how the duration of alimony, which may include post-divorce maintenance and may also consider the period of temporary maintenance:
- Up to 15 years = 15-30% of the marriage
- Between 15 and 20 years = 30-40% of the marriage
- 20+ years = 35-50% of the marriage
Spousal maintenance will end if the receiving party remarries or either party dies.
After the parties have reached an agreement about alimony or the court has issued a spousal support order, it is incredibly difficult to modify maintenance. A party must show an extreme hardship to reduce, modify or suspend their obligation. Thus, it is critical to ensure that the initial determination of spousal maintenance/alimony is handled properly.
Why Choose Us?
At Aiello & DiFalco LLP, we have a well-earned reputation for handling these issues. We have settled thousands of divorce cases throughout Long Island and New York where spousal maintenance/alimony is a relevant consideration. Since high-income cases can be complicated by discretionary factors, and because it can often be a sensitive area for parties to settle, and because until a few years ago there were no formulas to help us resolve these issues, we have gone to trial on many spousal maintenance/alimony cases.
Contact Our Experienced Long Island Alimony Attorneys
Aiello & DiFalco LLP has the experience to handle complicated spousal maintenance matters, especially in long term marriages where the amount and duration is one of the most significant issues. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.