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When you get a divorce in New York, there’s a chance that you may end up paying or receiving spousal support. Spousal support, also called alimony, is a payment made from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse so they can continue to live financially independently. If you’re in the process of divorce but haven’t yet finalized the agreement, and you and your spouse are living separately, temporary spousal support may be mandated until the divorce agreement puts more concrete plans in place.

After Divorce

Once the divorce is finalized, one of the spouses might need to give the other spousal maintenance. The duration and amount of the payment is calculated with a formula in the New York laws. In addition, the judge will take other circumstantial factors into account. There are certain cases in which the divorce agreement will mandate that support payments continue until one of the spouses dies.

The main goal behind maintenance is to make sure that both spouses can still have the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to while married. This is especially important when one of the spouses has been without a job for a while. Post-divorce support might be necessary while they learn skills to become financially independent.

Temporary Maintenance

Temporary maintenance is paid prior to the divorce’s finalization. This is mandated when one spouse has an immediate financial need. For example, if the spouse cannot afford to pay for their housing or food costs, they would need spousal support payments to have an independent life. Temporary maintenance plans always expire as soon as the divorce is finalized.

After Divorce Maintenance

When the divorce is finalized, you and your spouse both need to abide by the terms outlined. It counts as a legally binding contract. Failing to comply with the terms laid out in the divorce can result in criminal charges.

The divorce will give details regarding how your assets are divided, child custody arrangements, and spousal support payments. Spousal support generally begins right after the divorce. The payments continue to be furnished until the supported spouse remarries, the supported spouse cohabitates with someone else, or one of the spouses dies.

New York Maintenance Guidelines

Many aspects of divorce are fully up to the judge’s discretion. However, where spousal and child support payments are concerned, there’s a standardized formula. This formula is devised based on each spouse’s income. The goal is to ensure the award amounts are fair and consistent state-wide.

The court needs to input certain variables to make the calculation. This means that some external factors might be considered. If the initial calculation is considered by the judge to be unfair, the court will overrule it with a justified amount. A judge might consider each spouse’s health conditions and ages, each spouse’s earning capacity, and the marriage’s standard of living.

Calculation of post-divorce support is different from temporary support. Post-divorce support isn’t calculated by a fixed formula. The other considered factors include:

  • Both spouse’s income
  • Both spouse’s property
  • Both spouse’s future earning potential
  • The length of time necessary for a spouse to become able to support themselves

Maintenance Termination

If spousal maintenance is part of a final divorce agreement, it will be either durational or nondurational. The type of maintenance has the biggest effect on how long you can expect to pay.

Durational maintenance payments are only made for a certain amount of time. In these cases, the spouse who receives the payments is planning to become financially independent. Payments may be made while the spouse applies for jobs or seeks higher education so they can have better earning opportunities.

Nondurational maintenance, on the other hand, lasts for a lifetime. The exception is if the receiving spouse remarries or begins cohabitating with a new partner. Nondurational maintenance is rare but can be awarded in certain instances. This might include elderly spouses who can’t find employment or spouses with illnesses.

Maintenance Adjustments

A judge will sometimes amend the maintenance agreement if circumstances change. They’ll either reduce or increase the payments. Payments may be increased if the cost of living increases. Alternatively, if the paying spouse suffers a severe loss of income, the judge may reduce the payments to provide relief.

If you want a change to your spousal payments, you need to petition the court. It’s important to get in contact with an alimony and maintenance lawyer who can help you file the case.

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