In some circumstances, a spouse may be entitled to support after they end their marriage. Known as maintenance in New York, this support is intended to help a spouse become financially independent after divorce.
Courts consider the amount that is fair under the circumstances and what justice requires. Judges reach their decisions after reviewing the standard of living in the marriage, whether a spouse has insufficient property and income to pay for their reasonable needs and whether the paying spouse would have enough income or assets to pay for the other spouse’s reasonable needs.
Spouses must provide a statement of their net worth. They should fully disclose their financial situation to each other if maintenance is sought.
Maintenance ends on the date contained in the parties’ agreement, when a spouse dies, when the receiving spouse remarries, or a date set by the court if a judge ruled on spousal support. Support for job training and education may end when the recipient acquires the necessary skills.
In addition to any just and proper matter, courts consider 19 factors when deciding the amount and duration of maintenance. Judges will look at spouses’ income and property and how property was divided during divorce. The marriage’s length may determine the support amount with longer marriages leading to a larger award, especially if a spouse remained home to raise their children.
A recipient spouse’s poor health and advanced age can increase the support. Courts may also consider spouses’ earning capacity, the need to pay for education or training costs to return to work and become self-supporting, acts such as physical abuse that restrict a spouse’s earning capacity or opportunities for meaningful employment, a spouse’s inability to get meaningful employment because of age or absence from the workforce, tax consequences and loss of health insurance benefits from the divorce.
Courts review whether the couple lived together or separated before divorce, whether the children live with the recipient spouse and whether this inhibits their ability to earn an income or whether a spouse’s income opportunities are restricted by taking care of elderly parents or an adult or child with a disability.
Spousal support may be used to make up for a large asset received in divorce, such as their home or if a spouse wastefully spent their marital assets. Courts may consider the nonmonetary contributions of the spouse, such as raising their children, to the marriage. Maintenance can also make up for the sale or transfer of assets that a spouse made right before divorce.
An attorney can provide options addressing your financial needs. They may also assure that the decree is fair and reasonable.