Alimony, or maintenance, laws are quite complicated and difficult to understand, given that two different laws apply-one law to divorces commenced before January 25, 2016, and another to divorces commenced post this date. This is because a bill passed in New York changes the landscape of maintenance, removing some factors the court should not consider and including others that it should.
As many are aware, maintenance is awarded to the spouse who earns substantially less than the other. Temporary maintenance is awarded while the divorce is pending when one party petitions the court and asks for it. This ensures the receiving spouse can maintain their lifestyle until a permanent order is granted. It is based strictly on income.
The calculations for permanent alimony have been changed in the new law. Where previously the court was considering 20 factors, including the income and property of each spouse, the duration of the marriage, age and health of the parties and present and future earning capacities of the parties, among other items, now the court has to make a simple calculation.
The first thing New York courts consider now is if child support is being paid. Depending on the answer, a formula is used. The duration of maintenance will depend on how long the marriage lasted-for example, if the couple was married between zero and fifteen years, the court will consider granting one to two years of maintenance. If the couple was married more than 20 years, the court will consider between six and eight years of alimony.
The new formulas can be confusing to understand, and couples going through a divorce may not know how the calculations will be made and how much financial support they are entitled to. It may be beneficial to consult an experienced attorney to ensure that one is getting the alimony they deserve after the marriage has ended.