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Significant Changes to New York Alimony Laws Proposed


Divorce law, like other forms of law, does not remain stagnant. Over time, legislation is proposed that changes how divorce and its related issues —child support, visitation, asset division and such —should be handled. If you are considering a divorce, it is important that you and your attorney stay abreast of these changes.

A change to spousal maintenance proposed in NY

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the recommendations of the independent Law Revision Commission reviewing New York’s laws regarding alimony (now usually referred to as spousal support).  These so-called “sweeping changes” include reconsidering the formulas used to calculate support and discarding a legal precedent that made professional degrees marital assets.

One unpopular outcome of the 2010 changes to spousal support that could be revised was the formula used to award spousal support, which failed to address the issues of high net-worth couples. Due to complications stemming from these changes, some spouses found themselves owing more spousal support each month than they earned in the same period. If the commission’s recommendations were adopted, the formula would only apply to those couples earning up to $136K, not the current $524K, which is far more applicable and should avoid over-taxing the finances of higher earners.

By also rejecting the concept of licenses or degrees earned during the marriage as predictors of future earning, the commission hopes to avoid situations where these predictions do not bear out. In the past, these have resulted in rulings on the percentage of earnings that should be paid to a spouse based on predictions and not actualities, so even if the earner never achieved the predicted income, he or she still owed the same larger percentage.

With all the changes that constantly affect spousal maintenance and other divorce areas, you need the advice of qualified divorce attorneys who keep up with New York law and adapt their strategies to the ever-shifting landscape.