In New York, spousal support - also known as maintenance - is designed to provide financial assistance to a spouse who might be in a disadvantaged financial position post-separation. It's meant to prevent a spouse from experiencing drastic changes in their lifestyle due to the divorce.
The determination of spousal support in New York follows specific guidelines and considerations. The court evaluates several factors, such as the length of the marriage, the age and health of both parties, their earning capacity, and the needs of the spouse seeking support.
Factors Influencing Spousal Support in NY
Other crucial factors that the court takes into account while determining spousal support include the standard of living established during the marriage and the contributions of each spouse towards it. The court also examines the educational and career sacrifices made by a spouse, particularly if they've put their career on hold to cater to the family's needs or support the other spouse's professional advancement. The existence of domestic violence or any form of misconduct affecting the economic status of the parties might also influence spousal support decisions.
New York State law sets a formula to calculate maintenance awards, but the court still has the discretion to deviate from the guideline amount of spousal support.
In such cases, the court will consider additional factors like:
- The equitable distribution of marital property
- Both spouses' income and property
- The health and age of both parties
- The present and future earning capacity of both parties
- The need for one party to incur education or training expenses
However, it is essential to remember that every case is unique, and the specific circumstances surrounding each divorce can influence the outcome. In some instances, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may stipulate the terms of spousal support. In others, the spouses might reach a mutual agreement outside of court. Therefore, it is wise to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can provide guidance based on the specifics of your situation.
Types of Spousal Support in New York
In New York, there are generally two types of spousal support: temporary and post-divorce. Temporary spousal support, or pendente lite maintenance, is awarded to a spouse during the divorce process. It is designed to provide financial stability during the divorce proceedings, ensuring the lower-income spouse can cover their living expenses. The court determines this support amount using a specific formula but can deviate from it if justice requires it.
On the other hand, post-divorce spousal support is awarded after the divorce has been finalized. It assists the lower-earning spouse as they transition to life after the divorce. The duration of post-divorce maintenance depends on several factors—generally, the longer the marriage, the longer the duration of spousal support.
However, there are caps on the duration of post-divorce maintenance based on the length of the marriage:
- For marriages that lasted up to 15 years, support may be awarded for 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage.
- For marriages that lasted more than 15 years but less than 20 years, support may be awarded for 30% to 40% of the length of the marriage.
- For marriages that lasted 20 years or more, support may be awarded for 35% to 50% of the length of the marriage.
Both temporary and post-divorce spousal support in New York are subject to modification. The court can modify the amount or the duration of spousal support if there is a substantial change in circumstances, such as a significant increase or decrease in either party's income, the loss of a job, or serious health issues. If spousal support becomes an undue financial burden for the paying spouse, they can petition the court for a modification. Similarly, if the receiving spouse's financial needs increase significantly, they can request a modification to receive more support.
Procedure for Determining Spousal Support
The procedure for determining spousal support in New York starts with filing a case in the Supreme Court of New York. The spouse seeking maintenance must submit a financial affidavit to the court detailing their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. This financial disclosure is crucial in helping the court determine the financial needs of the spouse seeking support and the ability of the other spouse to pay. The court may also request additional documentation, such as tax returns, to substantiate the information provided in the financial affidavit.
Once the financial disclosure is complete, the court applies the guidelines set by the New York law to calculate the presumptive amount of spousal support. The court then considers the abovementioned factors to decide if it should deviate from the guideline amount. The judge has the discretion to increase or decrease the guideline amount of spousal support or waive it altogether, depending on the case's unique circumstances. After the court has made its decision, the amount and duration of spousal support are specified in the divorce judgment. The paying spouse is typically required to make payments directly to the receiving spouse or, in some cases, through the Support Collection Unit.
How We Can Help
At Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C., we understand the complexities involved in spousal support matters. Our experienced family law attorneys have helped countless clients navigate the intricate legal process of determining spousal support in New York. We can provide you with sound legal advice and strong representation to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the divorce proceedings.
Contact us online or call us at (908) 259-6673 for a consultation to discuss your case and learn how we can help you secure a fair and just outcome.