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Strategic Westchester Spousal Maintenance Attorneys

Alimony and spousal support representation in White Plains, NY

Spousal maintenance, also called spousal support or alimony, is the financial obligation one spouse has to the other post-divorce. The purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide support to the lower-earning spouse after a divorce so that they may maintain their standard of living until they become self-sufficient. The amount of spousal support paid can vary widely from one couple to another, depending on their circumstances.

Some couples can come to agreement on alimony together, but other couples may be in dispute and need a third party to decide. The White Plains divorce attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP have decades of experience helping clients just like you. Whether you are seeking spousal support or believe you will be paying support, our lawyers work to ensure that you are treated fairly. Talk to us today for smart legal guidance.

How does alimony work in Westchester?

There are two types of spousal maintenance in New York – temporary and post-divorce:

  • Temporary maintenance is alimony paid to a spouse while the divorce is ongoing. This allows the lower-earning spouse to meet their reasonable needs and, ideally, maintain their standard of living during the divorce, and until the final divorce agreement is entered into the court.
  • Post-divorce maintenance is the alimony entered into the final divorce agreement, as ordered by the court (or agreed upon by the spouses).

Post-divorce maintenance can be broken down further into either durational or permanent.

  • Durational maintenance is alimony paid for a limited period. It is meant to give the spouse an opportunity to gain the necessary skills to enter the workforce and become self-sufficient and no longer need alimony.
  • Permanent maintenance is not as common, but is typically awarded in cases of lengthy marriages, when one spouse is ill, unable to work, or there is a significant discrepancy in incomes.

Many spouses also agree to end maintenance upon certain events, like remarriage or cohabitation with a partner. Our attorneys are happy to address any of your questions or concerns about spousal maintenance and support.

Does the court award spousal maintenance automatically?

No. Neither party is granted alimony automatically during a divorce. Generally, the lower-earning spouse petitions the court to grant them spousal maintenance. Many requests for alimony come from spouses exiting long-term marriages, or when one spouse delayed their career to care for family. Common situations where the court may consider awarding spousal maintenance include when one spouse:

  • Earns significantly less than the other
  • Gave up their career during the marriage to care for the children or the home
  • Has limits on their earning ability due to age, health, or lack of education
  • Left their job to care for a sick child or family member
  • Took a lower-paying job during the marriage to support the other spouse’s business or schooling

How does the court calculate spousal support?

When calculating alimony and spousal maintenance, the court will first subject both parties’ incomes up to an income “cap” to a statutory formula. The result of this formula is the presumptively correct amount of maintenance that will be paid. However, the court may deviate from this amount by taking any of the following factors into account:

  1. Income and property
  2. Length of the marriage
  3. Age and health of both parties
  4. Present and future earning capacity of both parties
  5. Need of one party to incur education or training expenses
  6. Existence and duration of a pre-marital cohabitation or a pre-divorce separate habitation
  7. Acts that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a spouse’s earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment — such acts can include things like physical abuse
  8. Ability of the spouse seeking maintenance to become self-supporting and, how long any training might take
  9. Reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity of the spouse seeking maintenance as a result of having foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities during the marriage
  10. Where the children live — if children will live with the receiving spouse, and this restricts that spouse’s ability to earn an income, that can be taken into account
  11. Need to care for family members other than children
  12. Inability of one spouse to obtain meaningful employment due to age or absence from the workforce
  13. Need to pay for exceptional additional expenses — for example, for the children, such as schooling, day care and medical treatment
  14. Tax consequences to each spouse — maintenance is considered income under the tax code
  15. Equitable distribution of marital property
  16. Contributions and services of the spouse seeking maintenance as a spouse, parent, wage earner and homemaker, and to the career or career potential of the other party
  17. Wasteful dissipation of marital property by either spouse
  18. Transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration
  19. Loss of health insurance benefits upon dissolution of the marriage
  20. Any other factor the court expressly finds to be just and proper

Additionally, income that is “over the cap” can result in an increased award of maintenance. For example, the current “income cap” is $192,000, meaning the spousal support calculations will only apply to that amount of income. However, if the spouses earn a total of $500,000, that extra $308,000 may be dealt with by the court by increasing the amount of maintenance over and above that set by the formula. It’s complicated, and getting a favorable maintenance decision, whether by litigation or negotiation, requires an attorney who understands how courts and other lawyers view these awards in light of both the law and relevant facts. provides worksheets and calculators to get an idea of what you may pay or receive.

The Westchester alimony attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP will advocate on your behalf to ensure your spousal maintenance agreement is both fair and realistic.

When is spousal support terminated?

In New York, spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, can be terminated under various circumstances. These circumstances are typically outlined in the divorce agreement or court order.

Here are some common reasons for termination of spousal maintenance in New York:

  • Expiration of the Maintenance Term: Spousal maintenance may be terminated upon the expiration of the specified term outlined in the divorce agreement or court order. This could be a specific number of years or until a certain event occurs, such as the recipient spouse getting remarried.
  • Remarriage: Spousal maintenance usually terminates if the recipient spouse remarries. In New York, remarriage of the recipient spouse is typically considered a substantial change in circumstances warranting the termination of maintenance obligations.
  • Cohabitation: Spousal maintenance may be terminated if the recipient spouse enters into a cohabitation arrangement akin to marriage with another individual. This is often referred to as cohabitation with a romantic partner or a "de facto" spouse.
  • Death of Either Party: Spousal maintenance obligations automatically terminate upon the death of either the paying or the recipient spouse.
  • Significant Change in Circumstances: Spousal maintenance may be modified or terminated if there is a significant change in circumstances that makes the existing maintenance arrangement inequitable or unnecessary. This could include substantial changes in either spouse's income, health, or ability to support themselves.
  • Self-Sufficiency: If the recipient spouse becomes self-sufficient through employment or other means, the paying spouse may petition the court to terminate or modify the maintenance obligation.
  • Violation of Court Orders: If the recipient spouse fails to comply with court orders or fails to make good faith efforts to become self-sufficient, the paying spouse may seek termination of maintenance.

When can I modify my current spousal support order?

Spousal support modification refers to the process of seeking a change or adjustment to an existing spousal support (alimony) order issued by the court. This modification can be sought by either the paying or the receiving spouse due to significant changes in circumstances since the original support order was issued. These changes could include variations in income, employment status, health issues, or other factors affecting the financial situation of either spouse.

In New York, the process of spousal support modification involves several steps:

  • Determine Eligibility: First, you need to determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria for modifying spousal support in New York. Generally, significant changes in circumstances since the original support order was issued are required. This could include changes in income, employment, health, or other relevant factors.
  • Consult an Attorney: It's advisable to consult with a family law attorney who has experience in spousal support modification cases. They can provide legal advice tailored to your specific situation and help you understand your rights and options.
  • Gather Documentation: Collect relevant documentation to support your request for modification. This may include pay stubs, tax returns, medical records, evidence of job loss or income reduction, or any other documents demonstrating the changes in circumstances that warrant a modification.
  • File a Petition: To initiate the spousal support modification process, you'll need to file a petition with the court that issued the original support order. The petition should clearly outline the reasons for seeking the modification and provide supporting evidence.
  • Serve Notice: After filing the petition, you must serve a copy of the petition and any accompanying documents to your ex-spouse. Proper service ensures that they have notice of the modification request and an opportunity to respond.
  • Negotiation/Mediation (Optional): In some cases, spouses may be able to reach an agreement on the modification of spousal support through negotiation or mediation outside of court. This can save time and money compared to litigating the matter in court.
  • Court Hearing: If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will schedule a hearing to consider the modification request. Both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments supporting their positions. The judge will then make a decision based on the merits of the case.
  • Obtain Court Order: If the court grants the modification request, it will issue a new spousal support order reflecting the changes. This new order will outline the updated terms and conditions of spousal support payments.
  • Comply with the Court Order: Both parties are legally obligated to comply with the terms of the court's spousal support order. Failure to do so can result in enforcement actions by the court.

My ex-spouse is refusing to pay spousal maintenance. Can you help?

If you have court-ordered alimony, there are several ways to handle delinquent support payments. Our attorneys recommend attempting to reach out directly to your ex to resolve the situation first. If you cannot or do not want to communicate with your ex-spouse, our lawyers can do this for you. However, if this method fails, you may wish to file an order enforcement with the Westchester courts.

The court is authorized to enforce a spousal maintenance order through a variety of remedies, including:

  • Wage deduction orders
  • Financial restitution
  • Contempt of court charges
  • Jail time

Remember, without a court order for spousal support, it cannot be legally enforced. This is why, even in the most amicable of divorces, you should always have a court-approved divorce settlement agreement.

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    We are one of the only Manhattan divorce law firms offering all three options for divorce: litigation/negotiation, collaborative law, and mediation - providing custom strategies and solutions for our clients.


    All families and marriages are unique - our attorneys take the time to listen to our clients to fully understand the circumstances of their case. Only then do we advise the best legal option for their goals.


    Divorce is a time of transition. We understand the emotional and financial stress that clients experience during the divorce process – from day one our team ensures that we provide our clients with prompt feedback so that they are updated on their case every step of the way.


    Our attorneys provide frequent expert legal commentary for national media outlets and have been quoted in numerous publications including Fox's Business, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News and many more.

Experienced Westchester spousal maintenance attorneys

The family law attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP can help protect your financial security when determining alimony and other divorce matters. We will advocate on your behalf for fair and reasonable payments, whether you are the payor or the payee. Schedule a consultation today by calling us at (914) 350-5329 or contacting us online. We have offices in White Plains for your convenience.

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