For some people that are getting a divorce, the idea of seeking financial support from an ex-spouse rubs them the wrong way. Many people are successful in their own right and feel that they don’t need it. Some just want as clean a break as possible and don’t want to have to make the arrangements to receive a monthly check. To others accepting financial support seems like a reinforcement of what they thought was wrong with the marriage in the first place: that they were a lesser partner in the marriage instead of an equal and that they somehow weren’t valued.
These reservations are completely understandable. A divorce should be looked upon as the beginning of a new life rather than the ending of an old one, and holding on to the ways of the past can seem counter-productive. But at Donnellan & Knussman, PLLC, we believe that obtaining spousal support for our clients is a practical way of helping them move forward. It is both a reflection of what their contributions meant to the marriage and a way to give them the means to better their lives.
None of our clients are looking for a handout or charity. What they are looking for is a fair amount of income that will reflect the contributions that they made to the marriage, the sacrifices that they made for the family, and the means to move forward with their lives.
Some Things You Should Know About New York Spousal Support
Alimony or Spousal Support under the statute is referred to as “maintenance” and based upon various factors set forth in the statute may be permanent or limited in duration. Maintenance generally falls under two categories, which are: maintenance to be paid while the action of divorce is pending—called pendente lite or temporary maintenance; and maintenance that is disbursed after the divorce in a post-divorce maintenance award.
Commencing as of October 12, 2010, when awarding temporary maintenance, the court must follow the Temporary Maintenance Guidelines, which will only result in a temporary maintenance award when there is an income gap between the two parties. The spouse with more income must have at least two thirds greater income than the spouse with less income.
There are two potential calculations the court will make when deciding an award for temporary maintenance. In the first calculation, the court will determine the temporary maintenance award by subtracting 20% of the payee’s (the spouse seeking maintenance) income from 30% of the payor’s (the spouse paying maintenance) income.
Alternatively, in the second calculation, the award is determined by taking 40% of the parties’ combined income and subtracting the payee’s income from that total. The result of both these calculations which is the lesser amount is the presumptive temporary maintenance award, but if the result is less than or equal to zero, the maintenance award will also be zero dollars.
However, the payor’s income will be capped at $524,000. Thus, any income of the payor that exceeds $524,000 will not be included in the determination of temporary maintenance. If the court wishes to include additional income beyond the $524,000 cap, it may do so based upon the consideration of 19 factors. Moreover, if the court finds that after its calculations, the presumptive award is unjust or inappropriate; it may adjust the presumptive award accordingly, based on the consideration of 17 factors.
Post-divorce spousal maintenance may be awarded to either party based upon a number of factors including the prior standard of living of the parties, the present and future earning capacity of the parties, and the ability of the party seeking spousal maintenance to become self-supporting. The spousal maintenance awarded may be for a limited period of time or for an indefinite period of time. Furthermore, the parties may, by written agreement, waive the right to spousal maintenance.
Notably, during the 2010 Session of the New York legislature, the following factors were added for the court’s consideration in determining the amount and duration of maintenance: the need of one party to incur education or training expenses, which would allow them to join the workforce; the existence and duration of a premarital joint household or a pre- divorce separate household; the presence of children of the marriage in the respective homes of the parties; the care of the children or the stepchildren, disabled adult children or stepchildren, elderly parents or in-laws that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a party’s earning capacity; and the inability of one party to obtain meaningful employment due to age or absence from the workforce.
What is important to anyone considering a divorce is to have a clear picture of what they want out of their new lives. Sometimes achieving your goals requires financial support. At Donnellan & Knussman, PLLC our attorneys are experts at helping you determine what your needs will be according to your future plans. We encourage our clients to meet with qualified financial planners and fight to help our clients reach the best possible outcomes.
At Donnellan & Knussman, PLLC our attorneys are experienced at fighting for the fair compensation of our clients. This means that all of our lawyers and staff are dedicated to handling every facet of your divorce proceedings. We aren’t a huge, multi-purpose law firm that handles some divorce cases. We focus specifically on New York divorce, child custody, spousal support and property disputes. If you are considering divorce, contact our offices for a confidential legal consultation today.