Spousal Support

In New York, spousal support or maintenance, commonly known as alimony, is determined by statutory guidelines. It is meant to limit the unfair economic effects of divorce by supporting the non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse with a continuing income. In some situations, the ex-spouse may have chosen to pursue a career path to care for the family, or the financial help is to ensure that the spouse can continue with their standard of living.

Spousal support can come in the form of rehabilitative maintenance, lump-sum maintenance, permanent maintenance, or temporary maintenance. Each type of spousal support offers different benefits. It is essential to make sure that your situation is matched with the appropriate category.

Rehabilitative maintenance, set for a specific amount of time, provides funds to help the recipient update their job skills and education to reach self-sufficiency. It also can be offered to the stay-at-home parent who cares for the children.

Permanent maintenance supports an ex-spouse until the remarriage of the supported individual or death occurs to either party. In some situations, cohabitation may suspend or terminate permanent spousal support. The court carefully reviews all changes.

Temporary maintenance may be awarded and paid out during separation, even before the divorce is finalized. The separating couple can determine the amount in a written marital separation agreement with payment details. If the parties cannot reach an agreement about the amount and duration of spousal support, the issue will be decided by the court pursuant to the statute.

Spousal support is based on specific monetary guidelines that include:

  • Former spouses' age, health, emotional state, and financial state;
  • Length of time for self-sufficiency via education or training;
  • Standard of living during the marriage;
  • Equitable Distribution of assets and whether it generates income;
  • Length of the marriage; and
  • Paying spouse's ability to support the recipient and himself or herself.

If you have questions about your rights or obligation regarding spousal support, please click this link to email us or call me, Nancy D. Kellman, or my colleague Jane Stack at 914-328-0900 to schedule a meeting.