Spousal Support & Maintenance
Establishing and maintaining alimony can be complex and confusing, which can result in you being taken advantage of.
The spousal support lawyers at Gordon, Tepper & DeCoursey, LLP, in Glenville, New York, can help you negotiate a fair alimony agreement.
Why do you need a lawyer to help you with spousal support?
After a couple separates or when parties divorce, the court can order the spouse who makes more money to pay a specified amount of money to his or her spouse. This is called spousal maintenance, previously referred to as "alimony." Though the goal of New York courts is to be as fair and impartial as possible, it’s critical to retain the legal services of an experienced spousal maintenance lawyer to protect your rights and fight for your best interests. Contact Gordon, Tepper & DeCoursey, LLP, located in the Albany area and serving Glenville, Schenectady, Saratoga, and the Capital District and Upstate New York, for information about spousal maintenance (alimony). Our lawyers would be pleased to speak with you.
- Filing for Spousal Maintenance
- Factors in Determining Spousal Maintenance
- Duration of Spousal Maintenance
- Changes to Spousal Maintenance
FILING FOR SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE
When a couple divorces, the court can order one spouse to pay the other spousal maintenance (formerly known as "alimony"). A court can also award interim maintenance while a case is pending. If a divorce action is not pending, Family Court also has jurisdiction to award spousal support. Once a divorce is finalized, both Family Court and Supreme Court typically have jurisdiction over enforcement and modification of maintenance awards.
FACTORS IN DETERMINING SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE
To determine whether a spouse is qualified to receive financial support from the other, the court will examine the current and projected finances of each spouse. The court will consider the standard of living that each spouse was accustomed to during the marriage, the assets of each spouse, and the amount each needs for living expenses.
Specifically, in awarding spousal maintenance, the judge will consider a variety of factors including:
- the income and property of the respective parties including marital property distributed pursuant to subdivision five of this part;
- the length of the marriage;
- the age and health of both parties;
- the present and future earning capacity of both parties;
- the need of one party to incur education or training expenses;
- the existence and duration of a pre-marital joint household or a pre-divorce separate household;
- acts by one party against another that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a party's earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment. Such acts include but are not limited to acts of domestic violence as provided in section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law;
- the ability of the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting and, if applicable, the period of time and training necessary therefore;
- reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance as a result of having foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities during the marriage;
- the presence of children of the marriage in the respective homes of the parties;
- the care of the children or stepchildren, disabled adult children or stepchildren, elderly parents or in-laws that has inhibited or continues to inhibit a party's earning capacity;
- the inability of one party to obtain meaningful employment due to age or absence from the workforce;
- the need to pay for exceptional additional expenses for the child/children, including but not limited to, schooling, day care and medical treatment;
- the tax consequences to each party;
- the equitable distribution of marital property;
- contributions and services of the party seeking maintenance as a spouse, parent, wage earner and homemaker, and to the career or career potential of the other party;
- the wasteful dissipation of marital property by either spouse;
- the transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration;
- the loss of health insurance benefits upon dissolution of the marriage, and the availability and cost of medical insurance for the parties; and
- any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper.
Spousal maintenance is not awarded in every divorce or separation case. If spousal maintenance, for example, is waived in a pre-nuptial agreement, the court cannot award maintenance unless that pre-nuptial agreement is vacated or set aside.
Effective with divorce actions commenced on or after October 12, 2010, a new statute provides for interim maintenance guidelines. The statute sets forth a formula for determining interim assistance while a divorce case is pending and sets forth factors by which a court can deviate from those interim maintenance guidelines.
DURATION OF SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE
In a divorce action, the court can determine the duration of maintenance payments. Maintenance will also end upon either party’s death or upon the recipient’s remarriage.
CHANGES TO SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE
If either spouse encounters circumstances that affect maintenance payments, either party may file to adjust the payments. Some examples include:
- Your spouse is fired from a job, which affects his or her ability to make maintenance payments
- You are promoted or hired for a new job which pays significantly more, and your spouse asks the court to lower the amount of support he or she pays
- You are experiencing financial hardship, so you ask the court to increase the amount of spousal support which you receive
It can be difficult to modify a spousal support or maintenance order, depending upon how the maintenance award arose (for example, in a separation agreement or after a divorce trial). Modification standards differ. However, hiring an experienced and knowledgeable New York maintenance attorney can increase your chances of achieving a modification of the maintenance order.