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The basics of alimony in New York

Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, is intended to help the recipient spouse achieve financial independence following a divorce. In general, spousal support ends if either party dies; the recipient remarries; at a date determined by the parties in their divorce agreement; or at a date determined by the court if spousal support was determined by the court.

The court evaluates several considerations when awarding alimony or spousal support in New York. Considerations the court evaluates include the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage and whether or not one spouse is able to pay spousal support to provide for the reasonable needs of the other spouse. The court looks to property and income to determine if the spouse is or is not able to provide for the reasonable needs of the recipient spouse. The court strives to achieve fairness when making an award of spousal support.

A list of factors help the court determine an award of spousal support. There are a total of 20 factors the court considers when determining an award of spousal maintenance. Several of the factors the court considers when awarding spousal support include the income and property of the spouses, including property division associated with the divorce; the length of the marriage; and the age and health of both parties.

Additional factors that may be considered include the current and future earning capacity of both parties; the ability of one of the potential recipient spouse to become self sufficient and the ability of the potential recipient spouse to obtain meaningful employment; the need of one of the parties to obtain education or training to develop skills that will allow for them to become self sufficient; the contributions of one spouse to the education or career of the other; if one of the spouses remained at home to support the household; who the children reside with; as well as additional factors both expressly stated and that the court considers necessary to achieve a fair result.

Spousal support determinations require complete financial disclosures by the spouses and because there are complexities associated with spousal support, it is helpful for the parties to be as familiar as possible with how spousal support is determined. Thoroughly understanding the divorce process in general can help the couple better navigate a host of divorce-related issues including spousal support.

Source: New York City Bar, "Maintenance (Spousal Support)," Accessed March 23, 2016

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