You're probably familiar with the terms "alimony" or "spousal support," which both refer to money a higher-earning spouse pays to a lower-earning spouse after a
divorce. In New York, we call alimony "spousal maintenance."
Why do we pay maintenance? It is to help dependent spouses get back on their feet and become financially independent after they get divorced. In New York, maintenance ends under these circumstances:
- Either party dies,
- The receiving party remarries,
- A date specified in the divorce agreement, or
- A date is specified by the court.
If a dependent spouse is asking for spousal maintenance and the court decides to award it, the court shall award an amount it deems fair considering the couple's individual circumstances. When making such a decision, the judge on the case will consider:
- The age and health of the spouses.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The income and assets of both parties.
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
- If the dependent spouse has insufficient income and property to provide for their basic needs.
- If the higher-earning spouse has the income and assets to provide for the other spouse's reasonable needs.
Making the Financial Disclosures
Whenever spousal maintenance is an issue in a New York divorce case, both spouses must disclose their full financial state of affairs to their spouse and the court; this includes stating their net worth to the other side. To calculate your net worth, you take all of your assets (the combined total) and subtract all of your expenses and liabilities.
Related: Is Spousal Maintenance Guaranteed in New York?
"What if my spouse cut me off? Do I have to wait until the divorce is final to receive maintenance?" Fortunately, the court can award temporary maintenance while a divorce is pending. However, the court does follow a formula based on 20 factors to arrive at an amount that is appropriate. To learn more about the 20 factors used by the court to calculate maintenance, click here.
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