Spousal support, otherwise known as a Maintenance Award, is a legal agreement to assist “the receiving spouse become financially independent after a divorce.” Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of spousal support, a spousal support lawyer can help you:

  • Establish an income statement
  • Define your cost of living and financial needs
  • Determine whether you will be asked to pay or provided with a Maintenance Award

It’s important to note that spousal support is designed to assist one half of a marriage in regaining their independence. Spousal support is not necessarily a lifelong arrangement. In fact, there are specific times when spousal support will be terminated under the law:

  • Either spouse dies
  • The spouse receiving support gets remarried
  • Predetermined date agreed on by former spouses or court

If at all possible, having an end date for spousal support is ideal if you are the paying partner.

How to calculate spousal support

While it would be easy if there were a spousal support calculator, determining how much support must be provided is quite the task. First, there is the consideration of whether or not there was a prenuptial agreement. If there is none, than your spousal support lawyer must investigate your marriage from the beginning. Factors your spousal support lawyer needs to consider include:

  • Finances, including current income and any assets
  • How long you were married
  • The age and health of you and your spouse
  • How much you may earn in the future
  • How much your spouse may earn in the future
  • The likelihood of financial independence for you and your spouse
  • Barriers to enter the workforce for you or your spouse
  • The established lifestyle you and your spouse had
  • If you have children, where do they go to school and will they need to be transferred elsewhere
  • Dependent care expenses, for children or other loved ones
  • Level of financial responsibility of you or your spouse
  • The future health insurance options for you or your spouse
  • Any other issues that occurred during your marriage that may impact your future, regardless of ending your marriage

Putting a price tag on each item isn’t that simple. And obtaining spousal support can be a long process.

Getting out of spousal support

If you feel that providing spousal support would be a financial burden for you, there are legal protections to ensure that neither spouse is made to pay support unfairly. For example, if during the process to calculate spousal support it’s discovered that your income alone is not enough to support the cost of living for two separate individuals, the court may rule that spousal support will not be awarded. Your NYC spousal support lawyer is the best person to help you navigate this issue and prevent you from paying for spousal support, should you not be able to afford it.

Spousal support is not child support

If you have dependent children, paying for child support is an entirely different legal issue from spousal support. The court may rule that you are required to pay or receive child support, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will also receive spousal support. Spousal support has separate legal requirements and is a separate legal agreement. Finding a practice that specializes in divorce law and family law may help you keep the chaos to a minimum, but in regard to the court, you must file different proceedings.

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