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Can I Get Permanent Spousal Support, Alimony or Maintenance?

by | Dec 28, 2021 | Alimony and Spousal Support, NY

Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support, is a payment from the spouse who earns more to the spouse who earns less, so the latter spouse may maintain the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to during the marriage. Long Island courts do not consider whether the higher earning spouse is the husband or wife.

There are multiple types of spousal support that a person can seek throughout their divorce proceedings, including temporary or permanent spousal support. Understanding spousal maintenance laws on Long Island can help you negotiate a fair settlement regardless of whether you stand to pay or receive alimony. Read on to learn what you should know about your spousal support options.

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The Definition of Permanent Alimony in New York

Unlike other types of alimony in New York, permanent spousal support doesn’t have a specific time limit for when it will expire. Permanent maintenance is often referred to as “non-durational” alimony, meaning the judge has not set a date that the payments will cease. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that spousal maintenance will be paid for the duration of the recipient’s lifetime. There are some situations in which a permanent support order may be modified or discontinued.

When Is Non-Durational Alimony Awarded on Long Island?

Non-durational spousal support may be awarded at the judge’s discretion in a variety of circumstances. For example, if the lesser earning spouse is disabled and cannot be expected to work or be self sufficient in the future, it’s more likely that permanent alimony will be awarded. Similarly, if the would-be recipient is elderly, or will not be able to financially provide for themselves independently, non-durational support will be given significant consideration.

How Do New York Judges Decide the Duration of Spousal Support?

Long Island family courts use a predetermined formula to calculate the amount of alimony to be awarded after a New York divorce.

  • 0 to 15 years of marriage — 15 to 30 percent of that time period
  • 15 to 20 years of marriage — 30 to 40 percent of that time period
  • 20+ years of marriage — 30 to 50 percent of that time period

For example, if a couple was married for 10 years and the judge determines that the lesser earning spouse has a significant need, the order for durational alimony might be 30 percent of those 10 years, or three years. For permanent alimony, only an amount is determined and this formula does not apply. Depending on the case, support awarded may be as much as 40% of the payers’ income.

When Can a Permanent Alimony Order Be Modified?

If a judge has ordered non-durational alimony, there are a few circumstances in which it may not truly be “permanent.” This includes but may not be limited to:

  • The support recipient engages in another partnership. If the spouse receiving alimony marries another person or cohabitates with them in what would be considered a domestic partnership, this may result in a nullification of the spousal support order.
  • The support recipient does, in fact, become financially self-sufficient. If the person receiving alimony does get a job and ends up making enough money to support themselves, the payer can request that spousal maintenance be modified or discontinued.
  • The paying spouse becomes unemployed or receives a reduction in pay. A payer can request a modification of support should they begin earning less money than they did when the original alimony amount was calculated.
  • The payer dies. Regardless of the financial need of the recipient, if the paying spouse dies, non-durational alimony will end.

For more information, please read our article, How to Avoid Paying Alimony or Spousal Support in New York

Getting a Long Island Divorce Attorney On Board

If you intend to seek indefinite support after your Long Island divorce, you’ll need the assistance of a family lawyer who is particularly experienced in this area of law to help you obtain maximum compensation. If you happen to be on the other side of the equation and your ex is likely to seek permanent alimony from you, it’s even more important to work with an attorney well-versed in fighting non-durational alimony requests.

At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we have the skills and expertise needed to provide you with zealous, comprehensive legal representation regardless of which side of the matter you are on. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more about your legal options by dialing 631-923-1910 or fill out the short form on this page.


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