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Long Island Spousal Maintenance Lawyer

Huntington, NY Divorce Attorneys

Going through divorce can be a stressful process. Even if you and your former spouse have decided on divorce mediation or uncontested divorce rather than litigation in the hopes of a more amicable split, it can still be quite an emotional process to separate out all the things and relationships that used to be part of a life together.

"Maintenance" or "spousal support," formerly referred to as "alimony" is a legally binding agreement for which the amounts to be paid and period of time payments must be made and cannot be changed without a petition to the Court. This stage of a divorce case can bring up many questions that perhaps were never considered before.

If you are responsible for spousal support payments or feel you are entitled to maintenance from your former spouse, it is wise to get the help of a Suffolk County divorce attorney at The Meyers Law Group, P.C. we feel that family law cases definitely require a certain degree of compassion and care in order to help the client through his or her divorce. A maintenance attorney at our firm helps each client understand the process of spousal maintenance and may be able to help you get the outcome you are looking for.

New Spousal Support Laws

On September 25, 2015, Bill A-7645-2015 was signed into law and changed the way the Courts regard temporary spousal maintenance and post-divorce maintenance. These changes overhaul notoriously unpopular laws concerning alimony and now seek a more balanced look at how couples make money and how financial support should be calculated in the long-term. The temporary maintenance provisions go into effect October 25, 2015 and the remainging provisions go into effect January 23, 2016.

The following changes to spousal maintenance law are key:

  • The cap for both temporary maintenance and post-divorce maintenance has been lowered. The maximum allowable payment from the payor's income is now $175,000, not $543,000.
  • The duration of post-divorce maintenance will now be subject to a new advisory schedule. In the past the "rule of thumb" was that maintenance should last one year for every three years the marriage lasted. Now, the following guidelines are:
    • Zero to 15 years of marriage: length of maintenance will be between 15 to 30 percent of the length of the marriage.
    • 16 to 20 years of marriage: length of maintenance will be between 30 to 40 percent the length of the marriage.
    • More than 20 years of marriage: length of maintenance will be between 35 to 50 percent the length of the marriage.
  • Post-divorce maintenance will now be calculated before child support and child support orders will address any maintenance payments and burdens.
  • There are new formulas for calculating spousal maintenance. One is for when the maintenance payor is a custodial parent and one is for when the payor is a non-custodial parent:
    • When the payor is the custodial parent: "(a) subtract 20% of the maintenance payee's income from 30% of the maintenance payor's income; (b) multiply the sum of the maintenance payor's income and the maintenance payee's income by 40% and subtract the maintenance payee's income from the result; (c) the lower of the two amounts will be the guideline amount of maintenance."
    • When the payor is the non-custodial parent: "(a) subtract 25% of the maintenance payee's income from 20% of the maintenance payor's income; (b) multiply the sum of the maintenance payor's income and the maintenance payee's income by 40% and subtract the maintenance payee's income from the result; (c) the lower of the two amounts will be the guideline amount of maintenance."
  • There will no longer be any consideration of "enhanced earning capacity. Previously, attorneys would work with experts to determine the lifetime value of a professional degree earned during the course of the marriage, such as a doctorate or medical or law degree. These valuations will no longer be made or have a bearing on spousal maintenance.

Further, another piece of legislation (A 7637 and S 5691) made the same clarification, provided, there is an automatic adjustment in the amount of child support upon the termination of maintenance. That bill was entitled "An act to amend the family court act and the domestic relations law, in relation to spousal maintenance and child support in the supreme and family court." It passed both the Assembly and the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Cuomo on October 26, 2015. Those provisions will be effective 90 days from signing or at approximately the same date as the effective date of the remainder of the provisions of the new maintenance guidelines legislation.

These are the key changes, but others may apply to your particular circumstances. For a better understanding of your spousal maintenance issues, contact us today.

What factors influence the court's maintenance decision?

New York has also made changes to the factors a Court must consider when awarding maintenance. Post-Divorce Maintenance Guidelines have been modified too.

For instance, aside from consideration of standard of living of parties, the Court shall consider the following factors per DRL section 236 (6)(B):

  1. The income and property of the parties, including property distributed;
  2. The length of the marriage;
  3. The age and health of the parties;
  4. The present and future earning capacity of the parties;
  5. The need of one party to incur education or training expenses;
  6. The existence and duration of a pre-marital joint household or a pre-divorce separate household;
  7. Acts of one party that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a party's earning capacity, including but not limited to acts of domestic violence as defined in Social Services Law section 469(a);
  8. The ability of the party seeking maintenance to be self-supporting and if applicable, the time and training necessary therefor;
  9. The reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance as the result of having foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities;
  10. The presence of children of the marriage in the respective homes of the parties;
  11. 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;
  12. The inability of one party to obtain meaningful employment due to age or absence from the workforce;
  13. The need to pay "exceptional additional expenses" for the child(ren) including but not limited to schooling, day care and medical treatment;
  14. The tax consequences to each party;
  15. The equitable distribution of marital property;
  16. Contributions of party seeking maintenance as a spouse, parent, wage earner and homemaker;
  17. The wasteful dissipation of marital property by either spouse;
  18. The transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of matrimonial action without fair consideration;
  19. The loss of health insurance benefits and the availability of and cost of medical insurance for the parties;
  20. Any other factor which the court finds to be "just and proper."
  21. Retirement assests and benefits.
  22. Any retirement or partial retirement that results in a significant decrease in income.

Enlist Effective Advocacy in Suffolk County

The Meyers Law Group, P.C. specializes in many aspects of family law including divorce, modification proceedings and equitable distribution. Quite separate from child support issues, maintenance and spousal support issues may greatly affect one or both former spouses after a divorce. Factors that may be considered by a court when setting maintenance agreements are: income, potential income and health of either party, children, length of marriage, etc.

Ensure your rights and interests are protected; call our offices as soon as possible at (631) 784-7722 to discuss your case and determine your legal options.