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What You Need to Know About Alimony/Spousal Maintenance?

Often used interchangeably, the terms alimony and spousal maintenance both refer to different types of financial support paid by one spouse to another, during or following a divorce. Understanding the complexities of alimony and spousal maintenance, including their types, methods to calculate spousal support, and factors influencing them, is important for anyone going through a divorce. Whether you seek spousal support or are obligated to pay it, being informed is the first step toward a fair and equitable resolution.

Factors Influencing Alimony and Spousal Maintenance

While not a complete list, some of the most common factors shaping the final decision include:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Earning capacity of each spouse
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Health and age of both parties
  • Presence of children and child support
  • Existence of a pre-marital joint household or pre-divorce separate household
  • Dissipation of assets
  • Availability and cost of medical insurance
  • Tax consequences
  • Domestic violence or other safety issues

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Types of Alimony and Spousal Maintenance

In New York, alimony and spousal support are categorized mainly into two types: temporary maintenance and post-divorce maintenance.

Temporary maintenance is typically provided during the divorce proceedings; however, it can be awarded in family court outside of the divorce proceeding in a separate proceeding. It is calculated based on a statutory formula, considering both spouses’ incomes and is intended to maintain the living standard until the divorce is finalized.

Post-divorce maintenance is awarded after the divorce and can be durational (for a fixed period) or permanent (until the recipient remarries or either party passes away). The duration often correlates with the length of the marriage. New York has an advisory schedule to guide the Court and parties as to the suggested duration of maintenance.

Modifying Spousal Maintenance

Modifications to alimony and spousal support agreements in New York are possible, but they hinge on significant changes in the circumstances of either party and their ability to pay spousal support. Common grounds for modification include a notable shift in financial status, such as a major income change, involuntary job loss, or serious health issues. Another key factor that can alter spousal support arrangements is the remarriage of the spouse receiving support. In such cases, alimony payments or spousal maintenance typically cease.

Prenuptial Agreements on Alimony and Spousal Maintenance

Prenuptial agreements may play a significant role in determining alimony and spousal maintenance in New York. These agreements, made before marriage, can outline the terms of spousal maintenance in the event of a divorce, providing clarity and expectations for both parties. Similarly, postnuptial agreements, signed after marriage, can also dictate terms of support and are increasingly used as a tool for financial planning in marriages.

These agreements can specify amounts and durations, or even waive spousal support entirely. They offer a proactive approach to managing potential future disputes over alimony, ensuring that both parties enter and potentially exit the marriage with a clear understanding of their financial rights and obligations.

Common Myths and Misconceptions

When it comes to alimony and spousal support, several myths and misconceptions often cloud understanding:

  • Alimony is guaranteed: Contrary to popular belief, alimony is not automatically granted in every divorce case. It depends on various factors, including the financial needs and resources of each spouse.
  • Only women receive alimony: Alimony is gender-neutral. The decision is based on financial circumstances, not gender.
  • Alimony lasts forever: Not all alimony agreements are permanent. The duration varies and can be influenced by factors like the length of the marriage and the recipient’s ability to become self-sufficient.
  • Alimony is punitive: Alimony is not intended to punish one spouse but to ensure a fair economic balance post-divorce.

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Speak With A Family Lawyer Today!

Divorce laws are complex, and to ensure your rights and interests are adequately protected, consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney is vital. They can provide personalized advice, help you understand your legal options, and guide you through the intricacies of your case.

If you’re facing divorce proceedings or have questions about alimony and spousal support, contact one of our experienced family law attorneys today to discuss your situation and explore the best path forward for your financial and personal well-being.

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