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What Is Maintenance in a New York Divorce?

Maintenance is the name for alimony, or spousal support that is used in New York. This covers support payments made by one spouse to the other during the divorce process and/or after it is finalized. The point is to help spouses maintain somewhat of the same lifestyle during this difficult time, to help them get their bearings before moving forward. Sometimes this includes paying to support a spouse who needs to pursue further education or training to reenter the workplace.

What kinds of maintenance are there in a New York divorce? There is pendente lite maintenance, and there is a final order of maintenance. Pendente lite maintenance means support that is ordered for the duration of the divorce. This is to maintain a spouse's lifestyle for as long as the divorce takes. A final order of maintenance can be durational or nondurational. Durational maintenance is support that only lasts as long as a court orders. This would be used in cases where temporary support is needed to help a spouse become independent, such as when a spouse needs to finish certification or some other training. Nondurational maintenance lasts for life. Naturally, this type of maintenance is uncommon, but it can come into play when a spouse may be unable to find work. This could include a situation where a spouse has a serious medical condition, for example.

How does maintenance get awarded? It is possible that spouses can write up an agreement to pay maintenance. This can be dealt with in a prenuptial agreement, or in a post-nuptial agreement while married. This written arrangement could also be a part of the divorce, as a "stipulation of settlement". If couples do not decide for themselves, then a court will be in charge of deciding maintenance. A court will look at several factors, such as each spouse's assets, income, earning capacity, and much more.

Can a maintenance order be changed? Yes, a spouse can get an award modified through a court. A change in maintenance must be justified by a dramatic and lasting change in one's life, such as job loss or a medical condition. A court will not honor the efforts of a spouse who tries to get out of maintenance by purposefully losing a job or getting demoted, however.

How long does maintenance last? Temporary (durational) maintenance lasts as long as the court orders it to. Nondurational maintenance last as long as both spouses are alive. It only ends when either spouse passes away, or the spouse receiving maintenance remarries or cohabitates with a new significant other.

If you need help settling a divorce or modifying maintenance, a divorce lawyer in Long Island may be able to help. At the Meyers Law Group, P.C., we have years of experience assisting families find the best possible future. To find out what we may be able to do for you, please do not wait to contact our firm.