Spousal maintenance, previously called “alimony” in New York and also known as “spousal support”, is the legal term for money one spouse or former spouse may be required to pay the other spouse after divorce.Schedule a consultation
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Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP is a boutique family and divorce law practice based in midtown Manhattan and serving the greater New York area. Our attorneys assist clients in all matters related to divorce, including pre-divorce spousal maintenance and post-divorce spousal support determinations.
Is There a Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Maintenance in New York?
Spousal maintenance, previously called “alimony” in New York and also known as “spousal support”, is the legal term for money one spouse or former spouse may be required to pay the other spouse after divorce. While spousal maintenance may be set for life, it is generally awarded for a specific period. To determine the amount and duration of a maintenance award, courts consider these factors:
- The income and property of each spouse, including each spouse’s share of the marital property as divided by the court
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of the parties
- The present and future earning capacity of both spouses
- A spouse’s need to incur training or education expenses
- The existence and duration of a joint household before marriage or separate households before divorce
- Acts by one spouse against the other that inhibit the other’s earning capacity or ability to get a job
- The ability of the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting, and the time and training it will require
- Whether the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity because of having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities during the marriage
- Where the children live
- Whether a spouse’s earning capacity is inhibited by ongoing care of children, stepchildren, adult children with disabilities, or elderly parents or in-laws
- Whether one spouse will have trouble finding work due to age or absence from the workforce
- Exceptional, additional expenses for the children
- The tax consequences to each party
- The equitable distribution of marital property
- The contributions and services of the party seeking maintenance as a spouse, parent, wage earner, homemaker, and to the career or career potential of the other party
- The wasteful dissipation of marital property by either spouse
- Any transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration
- The loss, availability, and cost of health insurance
- Any other factor that the court expressly finds just and proper
What Does a Matrimonial Law Attorney Do Regarding Spousal Maintenance Issues?
When couples choose to divorce, a substantial area of conflict frequently stems from one party’s desire to obtain spousal maintenance. This issue is equally important to both parties for very different reasons. Whether your divorce creates a need to be financially supported or you want to protect what you have worked so hard to earn, you need an experienced legal team on your side.
Certain situations raise questions as to whether a spousal maintenance award may be affected. When facing the reality of being on your own again, it is important that you understand what you may or may not be financially entitled to.
No matter which side of the argument you are on, you will have more favorable results with an experienced divorce advocate who knows how to craft an argument for or against spousal support.
What Types of Spousal Maintenance May Be Available?
Spousal maintenance is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. While it is possible that this form of financial support may be awarded for life, that is very rare: it is generally awarded for a specific period based on the length of the marriage, and other factors a court may consider. Below are the forms you or your spouse may be eligible to receive.
Temporary Spousal Maintenance
If spouses are in the middle of divorce, a spouse who earns less than his or her soon-to-be-ex may be eligible for temporary spousal maintenance, or spousal support, while the divorce case continues. A law was passed in 2010 that provides a formula and factors for courts to consider in calculating temporary spousal maintenance, with the same factors considered by the court as those determining spousal maintenance after a divorce. The divorce lawyers at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP can ably assist clients in temporary spousal support and post-divorce maintenance matters.
Post-divorce Spousal Maintenance
This award will be ongoing for an indefinite amount of time. It is possible that the paying spouse can seek a decrease, or the receiving spouse can request an increase based on financial need, even many years after a divorce.
Can Prenuptial Agreements or Postnuptial Agreements Affect Spousal Maintenance?
Prenuptial agreements, which are executed by both parties prior to marriage and postnuptial agreements, which are executed during your marriage, both operate to set rules for property division and other marital issues in the event of divorce or even if one spouse predeceases the other. These contracts can address spousal maintenance, although it is not required.
Parties can agree to limit the amount to be paid, or they can agree to eliminate post-divorce financial support entirely. An exception exists in that if the agreement will leave one party destitute and dependent upon the state for support, spousal support may still be awarded in the interest of public policy.
Every couple’s circumstances are different, making it possible that the terms agreed to under a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may not be set in stone.
Will Adultery Damage My Claim for Spousal Maintenance?
Although some states consider adultery an automatic bar to an alimony award, cheating on a spouse is not typically a consideration when making a spousal maintenance award in New York. That said, if a spouse engaging in an extramarital relationship squanders marital assets on his or her love interest, the court may add that money or property back into the marital estate resulting in a larger portion of the marital property being awarded to the other spouse.
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If you are facing divorce and need assistance with spousal support, the New York family law attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP can provide the legal advice and counsel you need. Please contact the firm or call (212) 466-6015. Proudly serving Manhattan, Westchester, and Bergen County, New Jersey.