Spousal maintenance or spousal support, formerly known as alimony, refers to money a spouse or former spouse may be required to pay the other spouse after divorce. Generally awarded for a specific period of time, spousal maintenance may be awarded for life in some circumstances. While a divorce action is pending, a spouse may receive temporary spousal support. Permanent maintenance or more properly called post-divorce maintenance is maintenance either agreed upon by the parties in the divorce agreement or ordered by the court after a trial. Generally, post-divorce maintenance ends after a set period of time or once the receiving party remarries or passes away, whichever first occurs.
Courts will consider several factors when determining the amount and duration of a spousal maintenance award. Such factors include:
- The income and property of the respective spouses and the distribution of marital property
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of both spouses
- The present and future earning capacity of the spouses
- The need of one spouse to incur education or training expenses
- The existence and duration of a pre-marital joint household or a pre-divorce separate household
- Acts by one spouse against another that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a spouse’s earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment, including, but are not limited to, acts of domestic violence
- The ability of the spouse seeking maintenance to become self-supporting and, if applicable, the period of time and training necessary to become self-supporting
- Reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance as a result of having foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities during the marriage
- The presence of children of the marriage in the respective homes of the spouses
- The care of the children or stepchildren, disabled adult children or stepchildren, elderly parents or in-laws that has inhibited or continues to inhibit a party’s earning capacity
- The inability of one spouse to obtain meaningful employment due to age or absence from the workforce
- The need to pay for exceptional additional expenses for the child/children, including but not limited to, schooling, day care and medical treatment. The tax consequences for the expenses to each party are also a factor
- The equitable distribution of marital property
- Contributions and services of the party seeking maintenance as a spouse, parent, wage earner and homemaker, and to the career or career potential of the other spouse
- The wasteful dissipation of marital property by either spouse
- The transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration
- The loss of health insurance benefits upon dissolution of the marriage, and the availability and cost of medical insurance for the spouses
- Any other factor which the court deems necessary
For cases where the action for divorce commences on January 25, 2016 or after, post-divorce maintenance is guided by a calculation.
During divorce proceedings, a spouse who earns less than his or her spouse may be eligible for temporary spousal maintenance, or spousal support, while the divorce case continues. Temporary maintenance is support paid by the higher income spouse to the lower income spouse during the time that a divorce case is pending or for a period of time as determined by the court. In New York State, there is a specific formula for determining the amount of temporary spousal maintenance to be paid. Temporary maintenance, if previously awarded by Family Court, terminates when the divorce court makes an order.
If you are facing divorce and need assistance with spousal support, contact the family law attorneys at the Law Office of Robert H. Montefusco, P.C.