SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE (AKA ALIMONY)
In addition to equitable distribution, spouses in a divorce may also be entitled to an award of spousal maintenance (commonly referred to as alimony). Over the past decade, New York has enacted a formulaic approach to spousal maintenance.
Maintenance is governed by each party’s income and the disparity between their respective incomes. Under the current maintenance regime (enacted in 2015), there are multiple formulas that must be considered to arrive at the “presumptive” maintenance award under these formulas.
If you have children, the “lower” formula applies. Under this approach, you first subtract 25 percent of lower earning spouse’s (the “payee”) income from 20 percent of the higher earning spouse’s (the “payor”) income (up to a statutory cap of $192,000). Second, you subtract the payee’s income from 40 percent of the combined income of both parties (again capped at $192,000). Whichever formula results in a lower total is the presumptive amount, and if either formula results in a number less than zero, no maintenance should be awarded.
If the parties do not have children, the “higher” formula applies. Under this approach, you first subtract 20 percent of the payee income from 30 percent of the payor’s income (capped at $192,000). Second, you subtract the payee’s income from 40 percent of the combined income of both parties (again capped at $192,000). Again, whichever formula results in a lower total is the presumptive amount, and if either formula results in a number less than zero, no maintenance should be awarded.
To complicate this process even further, courts have discretion to deviate from the presumptive amount under the formulas. When assessing whether to grant more or less than the presumptive amount, courts may consider, among other things: the age and health of the parties; the present or future earning capacity of the parties; the need of one party to incur education or training expenses; the wasteful dissipation of marital property and transfers made in contemplation of divorce; and acts by one party against another that have inhibited a party's earning capacity, including acts of domestic violence.
Given these complexities, it is highly recommended that you retain counsel if you believe you are entitled to an award of spousal maintenance. Having handled numerous claims for spousal maintenance, the Law Offices of Andrew T. Coyle is here to help you navigate these intricacies.