When marriages end in New York, maintenance awards are the payments set up to help the receiving spouse become financially independent after a divorce. Factors that affect the award often referred to alimony or spousal support are an assessment of the standard of living the couple experienced while married, whether one spouse or another has enough income and property to provide for his or her own needs, and whether the other spouse owns enough or has enough income to provide for the other spouse’s reasonable needs.
Calculating Maintenance Awards
The first step in deciding a maintenance award is to understand both spouses’ finances. Both spouses are required to prepare a comprehensive accounting of their own wealth. Each spouse is charged with adding up their net worth and including a statement proving it. All assets are calculated and all liabilities added up. Whatever remains is net worth. As these figures are being noted, the court can elect to assign a temporary maintenance award while the case is pending.
New York law outlines a formula to calculate temporary maintenance. There are 20 criteria considered by the courts in determining a temporary award figure. Among these factors are: income and property, separately and combined; how long the marriage lasted; potential earnings for both spouses; other responsibilities such as caring for an aging parent; and tax consequences for both spouses. If a temporary award is ordered and the circumstances change for either spouse, either may apply for a reconsideration based on the new situation; this is called a modification.
Permanent maintenance awards are often determined among the spouses. There are no statutory formulas for permanent maintenance. If both are unable to reach an agreeable determination, the court will direct this. Sometimes, if a deep disparity exists between the income and assets of both parties, the court may also order the “wealthier” of the two to pay the lawyer fees for the other.
Different Types of Alimony
When one spouse cannot take care of himself or herself financially after the marriage is dissolved, spousal support or alimony can be ordered. In most situations, alimony is not ordered unless the marriage is older than five years, but in many cases, 10 years.
Rehabilitative alimony is the most common and is most helpful to the spouse receiving it. The idea behind this payment is to give the spouse time to reestablish oneself by preparing to re-enter the working world. Guidelines are set up with an end date in mind. The spouse is expected to have a plan to use the time to become self-sufficient. Extensions may be requested but in most cases, the alimony ends on the date ordered by the court.
When one spouse worked during the marriage to support the family while the other spouse attended school or initiated a new business, that spouse can petition the court for reimbursement alimony. In most situations, the reimbursement alimony is meant to repay the spouse for their help. However, there are circumstances when the spouse may successfully receive reimbursement for what they did not do such as gain an education or accept other work.
Knowing your spousal support options can help you best prepare for life as a divorced person. The Levoritz Law Group is experienced in family law and our attorneys know how to weigh your strategy for gaining the best results for you in your divorce. Emotions can often get in the way and well-meaning family members may try to advise you. Your best options may never emerge without gaining the counsel of a trusted attorney during this potentially difficult time. Contact Levoritz Law Group to meet with one of our assertive, experienced divorce attorneys. We are skilled, prepared, and experienced and are ready to offer you the help you need to plan your path out of your marriage and into your new life. Call us today.