Long Island Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) Questions Answered
As experienced Long Island Divorce and Family Law Attorneys, some of the most often asked questions surround the issue of Spousal Maintenance or Alimony. Our clients are very concerned about this issue and routinely ask if they are entitled to it, will they be required to pay it, and if so, how much will they be required to pay. This post will provide you with an outline of the topic of Spousal Maintenance, or Alimony as the rest of the country calls it, so that some basic questions are answered.
What is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal Maintenance, also known as Alimony, requires one spouse to make regular payments to the other spouse. These payments may be made during the course of your divorce, as well as after the conclusion of your divorce, dependent upon the particular circumstances of your case. The purpose of these payments is to provide financial support to the other party so that they can afford necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. The public policy behind these payments requires that a spouse who has supported the family throughout the marriage continue to support the family, possibly even after a divorce.
According to New York State Domestic Relations Law (DRL), which governs matrimonial actions on Long Island, either spouse may request temporary maintenance. These payments are made by one spouse to the other during the pendency of the divorce only. The court may set a time-frame that is less than the actual pendency of the action, such as 6 months even though your divorce takes a total of 12 months, or for the entire pendency of the divorce.
New York state has adopted different formulas to determine the amount of temporary maintenance to be paid. These formulas differ dependent upon whether the payor spouse (the one who is obligated to make maintenance payments) is also required to make child support payments. Temporary maintenance is calculated prior to child support and is subtracted from the payor’s income, thus reducing the total obligation of the payor spouse. Additionally, the court may deviate from the strict statutory formula upon consideration of certain factors set forth in the DRL. These factors include the age and health of the parties, the need of one party to incur educational or training expenses, the wasteful dissipation of marital property without fair consideration, the tax consequences to each party, and the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage. If the court finds that, given the factors laid out in the law, the formula-derived maintenance award is unjust, they may increase or decrease the award accordingly.
For newer divorce actions (those commenced after January 23, 2016) the new provisions contained within the DRL apply. Under these newer provisions, there is again a strict formula that Long Island courts will adhere to in determining post-divorce maintenance. Also, as with temporary maintenance awards, either party may request a post-divorce maintenance award. Post-divorce maintenance is also be calculated prior to a child support calculation, and is subtracted from the payor spouse’s income.
Long Island courts again have discretion with regards to the post-divorce maintenance award, given similar factors stated above. If the court finds that the formula-derived post-divorce maintenance award is unjust, it is allowed to modify the award.
Also included in the new provisions of the DRL is an advisory schedule regarding the duration of a post-divorce maintenance award. This schedule suggests durations of maintenance that are relative to the length of the marriage itself. Thus, a party married for 0-15 years would be paying maintenance for 15-30% of the length of the marriage, while a party married for over 20 years would be paying maintenance for 35-50% of the length of the marriage.
Have Questions About Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) on Long Island? Contact Us
While this was meant to serve as a brief introduction to the topic of Spousal Maintenance, it is a very particularized issue within your divorce that requires a careful review of the circumstances surrounding your case. If you have further questions regarding your maintenance obligation, or what you are entitled to, contact our Long Island Divorce and Family Law Firm at 631-923-1910 to schedule a complimentary consultation with our experienced Long Island Divorce and Family Law attorneys.
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