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Will I Pay More Alimony If My Spouse Has a Disability?

by | Jul 20, 2021 | Alimony and Spousal Support, NY

If you live on Long Island and are divorcing a spouse that has a disability, you may have questions about whether you will be required to pay more spousal support or make payments for an extended period of time following your divorce.

The always difficult decision to end your marriage through divorce can become even more so when it involves someone with a disability. Your spouse may be reliant on you and your health insurance and income, and separating in such a situation can be exceedingly complex.

Our goal with this article is to inform you of your rights and what legal options are available to you if you decide to divorce and your spouse has a disability. Here’s what you should do if you’re considering a divorce and are concerned about paying alimony if your spouse has a disability that affects their ability to work.

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Consider the Spousal Support You Provide Now

Prior to filing for a divorce on Long Island, it’s important to consider the support and care you currently provide for your spouse. Do you fully provide for your spouse financially? Does your spouse live luxuriously on your income? These are questions that should be asked in any separation case.

However, if your spouse has a disability, these considerations are even more critical. Do you provide your spouse with daily care like bathing or help dressing or eating? Are you responsible for managing household needs that your spouse cannot, such as paying bills, keeping track of medical appointments, or cooking and cleaning?

If so, you may be asked to pay for a part- or full-time caregiver in your spouse’s new home. Or, you may need to discuss the possibility of placing your spouse in an assisted living facility depending on their level of care needs.

Explore the Potential for Permanent (Non-Durational) Alimony After Divorce

In New York, along with most other U.S. states, alimony is almost never truly permanent. Generally, it’s meant to bridge the gap between a lesser-earning spouse leaving the marital home and gaining the ability to financially provide for themselves independently. When one spouse has a disability that renders them unable to do this, spousal support may be ordered for a longer period of time.

If your spouse has a severe disability and cannot be expected to work, you may be ordered to pay alimony for an undetermined amount of time. Under New York law, this is called “non-durational alimony” and has no set end date.

Typically, you or your ex-spouse would need to request a divorce modification hearing and present evidence that the status quo has changed; if, for example, your ex-spouse has remarried and another person is providing them with financial and medical support.

You May Be Required to Continue Providing Your Spouse with Health Insurance After Divorce

Separate from paying alimony to an ex-spouse with a disability, a New York family law judge may order you to keep your ex-spouse on your health insurance. This is particularly true if you have been providing them with health coverage through your employer’s insurance plan.

If you change jobs or health insurance plans within a certain period of time, you may be required to add your ex-spouse to the new plan. However, it’s infrequent for a judge to mandate this for an extended period of time.

Generally, the disabled spouse will be expected to seek state medical assistance and you will only be required to provide health insurance for a period of time until your ex is able to secure other adequate health coverage.

Call Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. Today for Compassionate Long Island Divorce Representation

Divorcing a disabled spouse is a difficult situation and you need more than just zealous legal representation to protect your rights and best interests; you need a lawyer that understands the delicacy of the matter at hand and has compassion for the situation you’re in.

At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we can help you understand your responsibilities to a disabled spouse you intend to divorce and assist you with finding comfortable resolutions that allow both you and your ex to move forward with the next chapter of your life as easily as possible.

Contact us today for your initial consultation by calling 631-923-1910 or fill out the short form below. We are available now to take your call.


Call 631-923-1910 or fill in the form below

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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
Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
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Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.

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