Many parties to a New York divorce expect that they will either be required to pay spousal support or entitled to receive it, and that the issue typically comes down to who is lower and higher earning. While this assumption is generally true, it is just a starting off point under state law on spousal maintenance. There are other factors that affect alimony during divorce proceedings and after the case concludes. Some of the traditional notions of what impacts spousal support may surprise you. If you rely on misinformation and try to represent yourself, there could be significant implications for your rights.
While you should always trust a New York divorce lawyer regarding the specifics, this description of what does and does not play a role in alimony should be helpful.
Factors That Affect Spousal Support in New York: There are certain items listed in the statute, and these are certainly important for purposes of determining spousal support. Examples include the length of the marriage, ability of a lower earning spouse to become self-sufficient, and many others. Plus, maintenance could be impacted by:
- Agreement of the Parties: If you and your spouse can compromise on alimony, the court will usually accept it. The parties are free to sign a prenuptial agreement that complies with statutory requirements, but you can also work out an accord on spousal maintenance after filing for divorce.
- Property Division: Because assets are divided equitably instead of exactly equally, there may be some discrepancy when the court orders property division. The judge may adjust alimony to account for the disparity.
- Interference with Visitation: New York’s statute on disrupting child visitation provides that the court can suspend alimony payments if the recipient/residential parent interferes with an order for parenting time. The judge can also cancel any arrears the recipient would have received during such time as the payor withheld spousal support because of the interference with visitation.
Factors That Do NOT Impact New York Spousal Maintenance: While TV depictions of alimony in divorce might indicate otherwise for dramatic effect, it may surprise you to learn how certain factors do not affect it.
- Income Over $192,000: New York law puts a limit on the income that will be subject to the statutory guidelines for spousal support. For 2021, that amount is $192,000. If the parties together make in excess of this threshold, the court will apply other factors to determine the duration, type, and amount of alimony.
- Adultery: Many parties will pursue a no-fault divorce in New York, in which you do not need to prove your spouse engaged in misconduct; the law on divorce actions also allows filing on the basis of fault, and cheating is one of the grounds listed in the statute. However, adultery is not a factor the court uses to determine alimony unless it is to pay back an aggrieved spouse who suffered financial loss because of infidelity.
- Gender: There is a misconception that the wife will always be the recipient for spousal maintenance, but the statute is clear that gender does not dictate the appropriateness or terms of alimony.
Discuss Spousal Support Factors with a New York Divorce Attorney
This information may clear up some of the confusion about how spousal maintenance works in New York, but it is still essential to retain an experienced lawyer for assistance with your divorce. Our team at The Mandel Law Firm can explain additional details after reviewing your unique circumstances, so please contact our Manhattan office at (646) 770-3868 or check out our website. We can schedule a consultation to review your situation and advise you on alimony concepts.