The Truth About Spousal Support- Who Pays What?

Spousal support, often known as maintenance, is a key part of divorce settlements. As these issues arise, it is important to understand the many factors that decide how much maintenance someone should receive or pay. Here at Brian D. Perskin & Associates, we aim to guide you through this legal process and ensure that you are well-prepared. 

Understanding Spousal Support in New York

Spousal support in New York is designed to provide financial stability to the lower-earning spouse during (temporary support) and after (maintenance) a divorce. It’s a legal obligation that aims to preserve the financial status quo as closely as possible. Unlike child support, which has stringent calculation standards, maintenance is more accommodating, considering the unique circumstances of each case. This flexibility ensures a fair outcome, but it also introduces a level of complexity in understanding exactly what these payments entail in New York. The determination typically hinges on income and length of the marriage; however, judges have discretion if the guideline amount would be unjust or inappropriate.

Who Pays What?

Typically, the spouse who has been the primary earner has the responsibility of paying spousal support in New York. This scenario is common in situations where one spouse has not worked outside the home, perhaps to care for children or manage the household, leaving them financially dependent on their partner. Similarly, if there’s a large disparity in income, with one spouse earning considerably more than the other, the higher-earning spouse is usually the one who pays spousal support in New York. However, determining spousal support in New York isn’t just about who earned more money. The courts take a comprehensive look at a variety of factors to decide not only who pays but also how much and for how long.

Factors Influencing Spousal Support Decisions

The process of determining spousal support in New York is thorough and considers many aspects of the couple’s life together. The goal is to reach a fair decision that reflects the needs and contributions of both spouses during and after their marriage. Here’s a closer look at what factors courts will consider when it comes to determining the amount of spousal support and the length of time (you will pay) in New York:

    • Income and property of both spouses: What each person owns and earns.
    • Length of the marriage, including any time the couple lived together before and after the marriage: How long you were together affects decisions.
    • Age and health of both spouses: Older or less healthy spouses might receive more spousal support.
    • The present and future earning ability of each spouse: This includes if one person stayed home to care for children, affecting their career.
    • Need for one spouse to gain education or training: Sometimes, a spouse may need to learn new skills to get a job.
    • Acts that prevent a spouse’s ability to gain employment: This can include past abuse that affects someone’s ability to work.
    • Where children from the marriage live: The parent with custody may need more support.
    • Any need to care for family members other than children: Sometimes, caring for elderly parents can affect a spouse’s ability to work.
    • Any need to pay for exceptional expenses, like schooling and medical care for children: Special costs are taken into account.
    • Tax consequences to each spouse resulting from paying or receiving alimony: How taxes affect each person matters.
    • What property was awarded during equitable distribution: The division of property can influence maintenance decisions.
    • Loss of health insurance due to the divorce: If a spouse loses insurance, that’s considered.
    • Contributions and services by the spouse seeking alimony, such as homemaker: Non-financial contributions count too.
    • Contributions, and any wasteful use of marital property by either spouse or unfair transfer or hiding of assets: Financial behavior during the marriage is reviewed.
    • Any other factor the court expressly finds to be just and proper

Considering these factors allows New York courts to acknowledge the complexities of a couple’s shared lives prior to their separation and how spousal support will impact their lives post-divorce whether received or not. After making and evaluating these considerations, judges can more appropriately calculate what these payments should look like.

How to Calculate Spousal Support in New York

In New York, the way these payments are calculated follows specific rules to make sure everything is fair and consistent. For temporary maintenance, which helps during the divorce process, there’s a clear formula to follow. But figuring out maintenance after the divorce gets a bit more complicated. The courts look at a wide range of factors to achieve an equitable outcome. These factors include:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • Each spouse’s age and health.
  • Current and future earning capacities.
  • The need for one spouse to undergo training or education.
  • The existence of children and their needs.
  • Contributions as a homemaker or to the other spouse’s career.
  • Any wasteful dissipation of marital property.

The court typically starts with a basic amount for spousal support in New York and then adjusts it to fit the unique details of each divorce case. This ensures that the payments are fair for everyone involved.

Hiring an Experienced Spousal Support Attorney in New York

Because this process can be complex and aims to ensure fairness for both parties, it’s important to consult with an experienced New York spousal support attorney. Having someone who knows the ins and outs of maintenance can make sure your needs are met and your responsibilities are clear. This is key to making sure everyone is treated fairly throughout this process. If you’re navigating the intricacies of spousal support in New York, call the attorneys at Brian D. Perskin & Associates today for expert legal guidance. Our team is ready to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your spousal support case.

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