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When Can You Stop Paying Alimony on Long Island?

by | Oct 22, 2019 | Alimony and Spousal Support, NY

Alimony, also called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is a payment made from the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse during and after a divorce. These payments are intended to help bridge the income gap while the lesser earning spouse learns to function independently.

3 Different Types of Alimony in New York

There are three different types of alimony:

#1. Temporary Alimony

Temporary alimony is often awarded immediately after filing for divorce when the lesser earning spouse reveals a financial need. This type of maintenance is usually very short-lived and is re-evaluated during the divorce process.

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#2. Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is the most commonly awarded maintenance in New York. This type of alimony is usually awarded during the divorce after careful consideration of how well the lesser earning spouse is able to provide for themselves, what they’ll need to do to become independent, and how long it can be reasonably expected to take.

For example, if the lesser earning spouse has been out of work raising children for the better part of 10 years, they’re not going to be immediately employable and self-sufficient. They may need to obtain new job skills or even go back to school for an education. Rehabilitative alimony is designed to meet this need and while it lasts longer than temporary alimony, it is also designed to end when the lesser earning spouse is able to support themselves.

#3. Permanent Alimony

Permanent spousal support is awarded in cases where the need for long-term alimony is needed, however, it is rarely truly permanent. It may only be ordered for a few years after the divorce is finalized, and often, alimony is voided if the lesser earning spouse remarries. In very few cases, alimony may last a lifetime, such as if the higher earning spouse files for divorce after their spouse has become incapacitated.

Factors Used to Determine Alimony Amount & Length

There are many factors used to determine how much spousal support will be paid, to whom it will be paid, and how long the payments will last. This includes:

  • The age and health of each spouse
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The income of each spouse and their ability to financially support themselves
  • Child custody and support if children are involved in the divorce
  • The education of each spouse
  • How easily each spouse will be able to find gainful employment after the divorce
  • The marriage lifestyle and standards of living to which each spouse has become accustomed

Other factors may also be considered on a case by case basis as determined by a judge.

When Can You Stop Paying Alimony?

In New York, you can only stop paying alimony when a judge absolves you of financial responsibility for your spouse. You should never discontinue alimony payments on your own without the prior signed order from a judge — if you do, you could be considered in violation of your court order and charged with contempt of court.

To petition for the cessation of spousal maintenance, you must have a qualifying reason to do so, e.g., if the circumstances have significantly changed, your case may be dismissed or your spousal support reduced. Examples of qualifying events may include but are not limited to:

  • The spouse receiving alimony remarries or cohabits with another partner in the same manner as a spouse
  • One of the spouses dies
  • Both spouses agree to stop maintenance
  • The paying spouse has suffered a severe reduction of income to the point where any payment would become a hardship (typically, alimony is reduced if possible)
  • The court orders the cessation of alimony for another reason

Should You Contact a Long Island Divorce Lawyer or Family Law Attorney?

If you’re considering getting a divorce or your spouse has already filed, you should reach out for legal support as soon as possible. Whether you are the lesser or higher earning spouse, you stand to benefit greatly from working with an experienced Long Island family law attorney to protect your rights and best interests under the law. Contact our divorce & family aw firm today for a free legal consultation and case evaluation to discuss the details of your case by calling 631-923-1910. We can also provide legal advocacy to help you modify a spousal support order. Don’t wait — reach out now for the representation you need.

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