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How to Avoid Paying Alimony In New York


How to Avoid Paying Alimony or Spousal Support In New York

Facing a divorce in New York and want to know how to avoid paying alimony? If you’re the higher-earning partner, you might be responsible for supporting your spouse financially post-divorce. This is known as alimony or spousal support. We’ll use these two terms interchangeably in this article. Spousal support is (usually temporary) payments made to your spouse during and after the divorce proceedings to give them time to regain the necessary skills or education to reenter the workforce. If you’re ordered to pay spousal maintenance after your divorce, this could make it harder for you to rebuild your own life. Here are some ways on how to avoid alimony in New York and how Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. can assist in this process.

1. Utilizing Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements

The best way to avoid paying alimony in the event of a divorce is to sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These agreements, once seen as unromantic, now serve as a strategic way to protect individual assets in case of separation or the need to dissolve the marriage. Both prenups and postnups are effective tools in outlining the settlement terms and conditions regarding alimony, should it be awarded, thus safeguarding against potential financial hardship. The key difference lies in their timing – a prenup is established prior to marriage, whereas a postnup is arranged after the wedding but before any spouse initiates divorce proceedings. By proactively addressing these matters, couples can legally define and potentially limit the obligations related to spousal support, providing clarity and security for both parties.

2. Asset Distribution as an Alternative to Alimony in Divorce

If you don’t have an agreement in place that addresses alimony at the time of your divorce, there are strategies you can employ to avoid or reduce alimony payments. One such way is through negotiation during the equitable distribution process, where you might offer your spouse assets instead of making ongoing alimony payments. For instance, if you possess separate property like two vehicles, you could propose giving one to your spouse. This can be a beneficial approach to settle some or all of the spousal support that you would otherwise be required to pay according to the divorce settlement or decree. In many cases, this kind of asset transfer can be an effective alternative, helping to maintain a standard of living for your spouse while alleviating the need for you to make regular alimony payments.

3. Prove That Your Spouse Doesn’t Need Spousal Support

If you don’t have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement specifying alimony obligations, there are potential ways to avoid or minimize spousal support payments in the event of a divorce. One strategy is to provide evidence to the court that your spouse does not require financial assistance post-divorce. For instance, if your spouse has a side business that could flourish following the separation, this could be a significant change in their financial situation. In such cases, you can request a support modification, allowing the court to reassess your spouse’s financial status to determine whether alimony payments can be reduced or altogether terminated. Additionally, it’s important to note that if your ex-spouse remarries, this change in circumstances typically renders them ineligible to continue receiving spousal maintenance, as per the stipulations of most divorce decrees. In these scenarios, consulting with an alimony lawyer or a law firm specializing in family law can be crucial in navigating the legal complexities and ensuring your case is handled effectively.

4. Live Within Reduced Means

The determination of spousal support, or whether alimony should be awarded at all, hinges on a comparison of your income against your expenses, alongside any assets you own. In New York, alimony payments are calculated as a percentage of your income, subject to a maximum limit set by state law. If you experience a legitimate decline in income and adjust to live within these new means, it might be possible to avoid being required to pay alimony, as your disposable income would be minimal or nonexistent. However, it’s crucial to be aware that during a divorce, the court may scrutinize any significant changes in your financial situation. This scrutiny is to ensure that such changes aren’t strategically made to influence the divorce settlement, especially in regards to alimony. In such instances, seeking advice from an alimony attorney or a specialized law office can be invaluable in understanding and navigating these complex legal considerations.

5. Consider Filing a Fault Divorce

While there are no specific statutes stating that an at-fault spouse is ineligible for alimony, courts often show reluctance in ordering spousal support payments in cases where one spouse is accused of contributing to the marriage’s breakdown. For instance, if you are going through a divorce due to your spouse’s adultery, you have the option to file for either a fault or no-fault divorce. Opting for a fault divorce and successfully proving adultery in court could increase your chances of avoiding alimony payments entirely. This is because the court may consider the misconduct of your spouse when determining whether alimony should be awarded. In such situations, it’s also possible that alimony payments, if deemed necessary, might be reduced compared to a no-fault divorce scenario. It’s important for clients in these circumstances to obtain legal advice, possibly from an attorney specializing in family law, to navigate these complexities and understand how the specific circumstances of their case could impact the finalization of their divorce settlement.

6. Get Spousal Support Help from a New York Divorce Lawyer

To safeguard against the financial strain of alimony in New York, partnering with a skilled divorce lawyer is crucial. They can guide you through the complexities of divorce, ensuring you explore all potential avenues to mitigate or bypass alimony payments. Reach out to Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. for insights on how to avoid paying alimony or for support in other family law matters. Contact us at 631-923-1910 or through our online form below for a consultation.




What is Alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, can be a crucial element in ensuring the financial stability of the lesser-earning spouse after a divorce. Whether you might receive or pay alimony, understanding its purpose and how it’s calculated is key.

Not all divorces qualify for alimony. Courts consider factors like the length of marriage, income disparity between spouses, and ability to be self-sufficient. Generally, the higher-earning spouse supports the lower-earning spouse to maintain their pre-divorce standard of living.

New York uses a complex formula considering income, expenses, age, health, and job skills. It’s not solely based on salary; a high-earning spouse with significant debt might pay less than someone with lower income but fewer financial burdens.

Alimony is not necessarily, or usually, permanent. Alimony can be temporary, ending after a specific period or when the receiving spouse remarries. In some cases, it can be permanent, particularly for long marriages or if the recipient lacks earning potential.

The terms of alimony can be negotiated or determined in court. Spouses can reach an agreement on alimony, outlining terms in their divorce settlement. Alternatively, a judge determines the amount through litigation, considering evidence and arguments presented by both sides.

Navigating alimony can be complicated. Experienced Long Island, NY divorce attorneys can advocate for your best interests, analyze your situation, and ensure you receive or pay a fair amount based on the law.

Alimony is meant to provide financial support and fairness, not punish either spouse. Understanding its nuances and seeking legal counsel can empower you to navigate your Long Island divorce with confidence.

Read our practice area page on Alimony / Spousal Support on Long Island, NY for more information.


What’s the Difference Between Alimony, Spousal Support, and Maintenance in New York?

Alimony, also known as Spousal Support or Spousal Maintenance, is described as a court-ordered provision from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse during and after divorce. It aims to provide financial support to the lesser-earning spouse, enabling them to transition to independent living. Alimony can be included in prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.

There are various aspects of alimony, including reasons for court orders, different names for alimony (spousal maintenance and spousal support), distinctions from child support, and the evolving trend of either spouse being ordered to pay support. It discusses when alimony is ordered, the possibility of mutual agreement between spouses, and the impact of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements on alimony.

There are different types of alimony, including temporary, rehabilitative, and permanent support, as well as factors influencing the calculation of alimony amounts. There are also differing durations of alimony and circumstances under which it can end, such as judicial orders, mutual agreement, remarriage, or the death of a spouse.

There are also tax implications of alimony following changes in tax laws and the potential influence of self-employment or business ownership on alimony payments. Forensic accountants are often used in high-net-worth divorces to determine the amount of alimony payments.

Read our Alimony / Spousal Support on Long Island, NY FAQ for more information.


What are the Different Types of Alimony Paid in New York?

Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is a significant aspect of divorce proceedings on Long Island, NY, and is often determined by a statutory formula. The courts recognize a presumption that the less-monied spouse is entitled to financial support. Temporary spousal support is calculated based on specific formulas involving percentages of the monied spouse’s income and the parties’ combined income. Post-divorce maintenance formulas vary based on whether child support is involved, and the court may deviate from these formulas if deemed unjust, considering 15 specified factors.

The duration of maintenance, although advised by the Domestic Relations Law, is flexible and depends on the length of the marriage. Income above the cap is subject to the formulas, but the court may consider earnings beyond the cap based on factors like age, health, earning capacities, and contributions of the less-monied spouse. If the court decides to consider income above the cap, it must provide reasons for its decision.

Spousal maintenance complexities in Long Island, NY divorces necessitate experienced legal guidance to protect the rights and financial interests of all those involved, emphasizing the importance of consulting with a knowledgeable Long Island Divorce Attorney for a free consultation at 631-923-1910.

Read our blog post on Spousal Maintenance, aka Alimony, Variations on Long Island, NY for more information.


How Is Temporary Maintenance Calculated?

Temporary Spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony, is a crucial aspect of divorce proceedings on Long Island, specifically in Nassau County or Suffolk County, NY. It is designed to ensure financial support for the lower income-earning spouse during and after divorce. Spousal maintenance during divorce may differ from the post-divorce award. It is distinct from spousal support, which is awarded during the marriage and terminates upon entering a Judgment of Divorce.

Temporary spousal maintenance is calculated using a formula, considering percentages of both spouses’ income, with child support adjustments. However, the court has discretion to deviate from the formula if deemed necessary. These temporary payments aim to maintain the payee spouse’s financial commitments during divorce proceedings.

Post-divorce spousal maintenance involves a comprehensive assessment of factors related to the marriage, such as its length, the parties’ age and health, earning capacities, and contributions. There is no specific formula for determining the duration of maintenance, and the court considers various factors, including any temporary maintenance awarded.

Parties can negotiate spousal maintenance agreements outside court, providing flexibility in determining amounts, duration, and termination events. Agreements can also set parameters on the payor spouse’s income. Resolving this issue through agreement prior to court involvement offers financial and emotional benefits.

For more information, read our post that answers the question, “Do I have to Pay Spousal Maintenance During or After Divorce?”.


What Factors Do Long Island, NY Courts Consider When Determining Alimony?

Long Island, New York courts, when determining alimony (also known as spousal support), consider various factors to ensure a fair and equitable outcome. These factors are outlined under New York’s Domestic Relations Law and are crucial in assessing the financial needs and circumstances of both spouses. Some key factors include:

Duration of the Marriage: New York courts consider the length of the marriage, with longer marriages often leading to a higher likelihood of alimony being awarded.

Income Disparities: The courts examine the income disparity between spouses, aiming to provide financial support to the lesser-earning spouse to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

Health and Age of the Parties: The health and age of both spouses are taken into account, as these factors can impact one’s ability to work and become financially independent.

Education and Career Sacrifices: If one spouse sacrificed educational or career opportunities for the benefit of the marriage of the other spouse, the court may consider this in determining alimony.

Financial Contributions: Contributions made by one spouse to the other’s education, career, or financial well-being during the marriage are considered.

Marital Lifestyle: The standard of living established during the marriage is a crucial factor, as the goal is often to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a similar lifestyle post-divorce.

Child Custody and Support: If child custody is involved, the court may factor in child support payments when calculating alimony to ensure the overall financial stability of both parties.


What’s Included in Each Spouse’s Income for Determining Spousal Maintenance?

When determining spousal maintenance in New York, the court considers various sources of income for both spouses to arrive at a fair and equitable arrangement. The goal is to assess the financial capacity and needs of each party accurately. In New York, income for spousal maintenance purposes includes more than just the basic salary. Key components considered are:

Wages and Salary: The primary income source, encompassing regular wages and salary earned through employment.

Bonuses and Commissions: Additional earnings such as bonuses and commissions are factored in, providing a comprehensive view of the individual’s financial situation.

Business Income: For self-employed individuals or business owners, their business income, including profits, can contribute to the overall income assessment.

Investment Income: Income generated from investments, dividends, interest, and other financial assets are considered when determining spousal maintenance.

Rental Income: If either spouse receives income from rental properties, it is included in the calculation.

Retirement Benefits: Contributions to retirement plans, pensions, or other similar benefits are part of the income assessment.

Unemployment or Disability Benefits: Any unemployment benefits or disability benefits received may be considered as part of the income calculation.

Spousal Support from Previous Marriages: If a spouse is already paying or receiving spousal support from a previous marriage, it is factored into the overall income picture.

By comprehensively assessing these various income sources, the court aims to ensure an accurate and fair determination of spousal maintenance that reflects the financial realities of both parties involved in a divorce.


Does Spousal Support Impact Child Support or Vice Versa?

In New York, spousal support (alimony) and child support are separate legal obligations with distinct purposes and calculations. They can, however, indirectly influence each other in certain circumstances.

Child support solely focuses on the child’s needs and is calculated based on a state-specific formula considering both parents’ income. However, the formula calculating spousal support varies depending on whether the recipient is also getting child support and whether the payor’s income exceeds an income cap.

Spousal support is normally calculated before child support because the person paying the spousal support can deduct that amount off his or her income before the child support is calculated. A parent paying spousal support might therefore have less income available for child support. In some cases, a judge might consider this reduced income when determining the child support amount.

Also, a parent receiving spousal support naturally becomes more financially secure with that support, potentially reducing their need for child support.

Key Takeaways:

Spousal support and child support are separate legal obligations in New York.

Both can indirectly influence each other due to their impact on a parent’s overall financial picture.

Important Note:

This information is for general understanding only and shouldn’t be considered legal advice. Consulting with a qualified New York divorce attorney is crucial for navigating specific situations involving spousal and child support.


How Long Does Alimony Last in New York?

Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance or support, involves payments from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse to maintain their accustomed lifestyle during and after divorce. Long Island, NY courts consider the need for alimony regardless of the spouse’s gender. There are various types of spousal support, including temporary and permanent, with a focus on non-durational or permanent alimony in New York.

Permanent alimony, termed “non-durational,” lacks a specific expiration date, yet it doesn’t necessarily mean lifelong payments. Judges decide non-durational alimony based on circumstances such as disability, age, or inability to achieve financial independence. Long Island, NY family courts use a formula to calculate alimony duration based on the marriage length.

The formula considers:

  • 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

Permanent alimony orders can be modified under certain circumstances, including the recipient entering a new partnership, achieving financial self-sufficiency, a reduction in the paying spouse’s income, or the death of the paying spouse. Seeking indefinite support or defending against such claims requires the expertise of an experienced Long Island, NY divorce attorney. Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. offers legal representation for alimony matters, addressing the unique needs of each case.

For more information read our article, Can I Get Permanent Spousal Support, Alimony or Maintenance.


How Is Alimony Taxed?

Alimony, or spousal maintenance, is a payment from the higher-earning spouse to the other, lesser-earning spouse designed to replace lost income until the lower-earning spouse achieves financial independence. It addresses the financial disadvantage faced by a spouse who sacrificed career opportunities for household and childcare responsibilities during the marriage. Alimony amounts are substantial, calculated based on the higher-earning spouse’s income, leading to significant tax implications.

Before 2019, alimony was tax-deductible for the payer and counted as taxable income for the recipient. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted changes, eliminating the tax deduction for alimony payments starting January 1, 2019. This shift places the tax burden on the payer, affecting individuals in higher tax brackets who were accustomed to deducting significant alimony amounts.

Divorces finalized before 2019 still allow the deduction of alimony payments and the reporting of these payments as taxable income. However, modifications to existing divorce decrees under the new tax laws may alter this benefit. Child support payments remain unaffected by these changes, with no tax implications for the recipient or deductions for the payer.

For individuals considering divorce or modifying existing agreements, consulting an experienced divorce attorney is crucial to understanding the impact of current tax laws on alimony payments and making informed decisions. Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., offers comprehensive legal representation for divorce matters, guiding clients through the complexities of alimony and tax implications.

For more information, please read our article, “How is Alimony Taxed”.


When Can Spousal Maintenance Be Modified in New York?

If you’re ordered to pay spousal maintenance (alimony) or child support on Long Island, NY and experience job loss or a reduction in salary, abruptly stopping payments can lead to significant legal consequences. Instead, it’s advisable to contact an experienced divorce attorney to initiate the modification of child support or alimony payments with the appropriate court based on the changed circumstances. Job loss qualifies as a substantial change, and the court should be able to recalculate payments considering the new income.

To secure a reduction or temporary pause in payments, you must demonstrate to the court that your income loss is likely to persist for a reasonable duration and that you’re actively seeking employment. If you secure a new job by the court date, the reduction might be less significant. However, if unemployment persists despite reasonable efforts, the court may decide to adjust payments.

Stopping payments without communication can lead to contempt of court charges, resulting in fines or jail time. Communication with the court or a lawyer, even in the event of sudden job loss, is essential to address the situation properly and avoid violating the divorce or custody agreement. Seeking assistance from an experienced Divorce Law Firm can help navigate the complexities of modifying payments in the right way, ensuring compliance and avoiding penalties.

For more information, please read Can You Reduce Your Child Support or Alimony Payments?


How Does Cohabitation Affect Alimony?

Moving on after a divorce, especially when alimony or spousal support is involved, can be challenging. If you’re receiving spousal support and decide to start dating, it’s crucial to understand how this may affect your payments from your ex. Cohabitation, defined as living with someone else, particularly in a romantic relationship, can impact spousal support payments. If your ex can prove that you’re cohabiting romantically, alimony payments might cease.

Spousal support is typically temporary, aiming to assist individuals in achieving financial independence post-divorce. Courts may view financial rehabilitation not only through independent living but also in cohabitation situations where income and expenses are shared. Roommate situations usually don’t impact alimony unless the court considers LGBTQ relationships.

To protect yourself from accusations of cohabitation, follow these tips if you receive alimony:

  • Avoid discussing your love life.
  • Be cautious about online disclosures, especially on social media.
  • Keep utilities in your name and handle payments independently.
  • Be mindful of activities visible to neighbors.
  • Consider delaying dating temporarily to avoid potential complications.

Accusations of cohabitation can lead to a modification of spousal support. If your former spouse believes you’re cohabiting and seeks a modification, a court hearing will be scheduled where both parties present evidence. Seeking assistance from an experienced Long Island, NY Divorce Lawyer can help protect your right to alimony and guide you through the legal process.

For more information, please read, Will Cohabitation After Divorce Affect My Alimony?


What Results in the Automatic Termination of Spousal Maintenance?

In many Long Island, NY divorces, higher-earning spouses may be ordered to pay temporary alimony or spousal support to the other spouse. Alimony is designed to help the lesser-earning spouse transition to independent living after the marriage ends. However, some recipients may attempt to extend support improperly. Alimony generally ends when the recipient remarries, cohabitates in a romantic relationship, passes away, or is not genuinely disabled as previously claimed.

To terminate alimony, a higher-earning spouse must file a motion providing evidence supporting the termination criteria. This includes instances where the ex-spouse remarries, cohabitates romantically, or is not genuinely disabled. The court will review the motion and decide if a hearing is necessary. If the judge determines termination is justified, the higher-earning spouse can cease payments with the court order in hand. However, stopping payments without a court order may lead to contempt charges, which could lead to fines and even jail time.

Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. offers legal assistance for those seeking to terminate alimony. Filing a motion promptly upon learning of termination circumstances is crucial to avoid unnecessary payments. Working with experienced family lawyers ensures a proper legal process and helps avoid risks associated with unauthorized termination of alimony.

For more information, please read, How Can I Get Alimony Terminated on Long Island, NY


How Is Alimony Paid in New York?

On Long Island, New York, alimony, also known as spousal support, is a financial obligation that one spouse may be required to pay to the other after a divorce. The payment of alimony in New York follows specific guidelines and can be arranged through various methods. Typically, alimony payments are made on a periodic basis, such as monthly or quarterly, and the amount is determined based on factors like the duration of the marriage, the financial needs of the recipient, and the paying spouse’s ability to provide support.

Alimony payments in New York can be agreed upon through negotiations between the divorcing parties, and if an agreement is reached, it is often incorporated into the divorce settlement. Alternatively, if the spouses cannot agree, a court may order alimony based on statutory factors, and the payment terms will be outlined in the court order.

It’s essential for the paying spouse to adhere to the specified payment schedule and amounts outlined in the agreement or court order. Failure to make alimony payments can lead to legal consequences, including contempt of court charges. Overall, the process of how alimony is paid in New York involves negotiations, court determinations, and a commitment to fulfilling the financial obligations as outlined in the divorce settlement or court order.


Relocating out of New York to Avoid Alimony?

Relocating out of New York to avoid your alimony obligations is a complex legal matter with significant implications. Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a financial obligation that may be ordered as part of a divorce settlement to ensure the financial well-being of the lower-earning spouse. Attempting to relocate solely to evade alimony responsibilities is generally viewed unfavorably by the legal system.

Courts take alimony obligations seriously, and intentionally moving out of New York to avoid such payments can lead to legal consequences. If the paying spouse relocates, the court retains jurisdiction over the alimony order, and failure to comply may result in contempt of court charges. Additionally, courts can enforce alimony orders across state lines through various legal mechanisms.

If the paying spouse believes there are legitimate reasons for relocation, such as employment opportunities or family reasons, it is crucial to seek court approval. Modifying alimony orders requires a formal request to the court, presenting evidence supporting the need for modification due to the relocation. As noted, the courts take these matters very seriously so it’s important to consult an experienced divorce attorney to help make your case to the court.

In summary, attempting to relocate out of New York to evade alimony obligations is not a recommended or legally sound strategy. It is essential to navigate such situations transparently through the legal system, seeking court approval for any necessary modifications to alimony orders.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
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