Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is the payment made by one spouse or former spouse to support the other during divorce proceedings and after divorce. It is usually set for a specific length of time, and courts consider many factors when determining the amount and duration:
- The income and assets of the spouses, including the assets that will be divided in divorce
- The length of the marriage
- The spouse’s ages and physical health
- Current and future earning capacities of both spouses
- The ability of the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting, and whether or not they will require time and training to accomplish this
- Whether the spouse’s earning capacity is challenged by the need to care for children, adult children with disabilities, or elderly parents
- Expenses needed for the care of children
- Contribution and services of the person seeking maintenance
- Whether or not one or the other party transferred assets or attempted to encumber assets in contemplation of a marital action
- The availability or loss of medical health insurance
A new law enacted in New York State in 2015 established new procedures with set formulas for determining temporary maintenance and post-divorce maintenance awards. There is also a formula requiring that less maintenance is required of a maintenance payor who is also the non-custodial parent and paying child support. Maintenance is calculated prior to determining child support payments.
The revised law establishes a $175,000 income cap for applying the formula to determine payments. Any award on the couple’s above-the-cap income is discretionary and based on statutory factors.
The new law also changed the duration of temporary and post-maintenance awards. The court determines the duration of the temporary maintenance award, considering, among other factors, the length of the marriage.