Making Sense Of Spousal Maintenance

What Is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance — sometimes still called alimony — is one of the most misunderstood areas related to divorce, but officially it is a monetary award paid by one spouse to another in order to assist with reasonable financial needs.

What spousal maintenance isn't is a process for making spouses equal; it is a rehabilitative tool to help one spouse get back on his or her feet. The goal of temporary maintenance is to prevent the less well-off spouse from falling into poverty as a result of divorce.

Have Questions Or Concerns? We Can Help.

If your divorce may involve spousal maintenance, it is in your best interest to have the counsel of a proven attorney. At the law office of Keith B. Schulefand, Esq., we offer representation from an attorney with more than 25 years of experience in this complex area of divorce.

The Current State Of Spousal Maintenance In New York

Bill A7645-2015 represents a significant change in how assets are divided, as the court will no longer consider the enhanced earning power of a degree, license, celebrity or career enhancement to be a marital asset subject to division.

Other changes to the maintenance formula include:

  • "Cap" on payor's income used for formula is $175,000, down from $543,000
  • There will be two formulas: one where child support is paid and one for when child support is not being paid
  • Child support will be calculated after maintenance has been determined
  • Duration of post-divorce maintenance will be determined via formula
  • Actual or partial retirement will serve as grounds for post-divorce modification of maintenance obligations

Our experienced lawyer can answer all of your spousal maintenance questions and make New York's new guidelines work for you.

Temporary Spousal Support

At the same time the New York legislature passed the no-fault divorce law, it also passed a law that provides for temporary spousal support. The new law provides for temporary maintenance to a qualifying spouse while the divorce is pending. The new law creates a formula to determine the amount of support. The amount that results from the formula is presumed correct unless the payer can prove it is unfair and unjust.

The new laws also created a presumption that the lower income spouse is entitled to payment of divorce attorneys' legal fees.

Check out the Temporary Spousal Maintenance Guidelines Calculator.

Permanent Spousal Support

For the time being, permanent spousal support is still governed by the factors set out in section 256 of New York's domestic relations law. When a court is considering awarding a spouse permanent maintenance it is required to weigh factors such as:

  • Income and property of the parties
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age and health of both parties
  • Present and future earning capacity of both parties
  • Ability of the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting

Judges have a lot of discretion in awarding maintenance. The rule of thumb is that permanent maintenance will last one-third to one-half the length of the marriage — the longer the marriage, the longer the maintenance.

Contact The Law Office Of Keith B. Schulefand, Esq.

We can help you navigate the entire divorce process, including addressing the issue of spousal maintenance. Contact us today to schedule your free phone consultation with a lawyer. We represent clients in Williamsville and throughout the Buffalo area.