When married couples divorce, sometimes one spouse asks the other spouse for alimony. Alimony, also known as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance,” is a type of financial support that provides lower-earning spouses with the money they need to support themselves during and/or after divorce.
Generally speaking, alimony is a way to even out a divorced couple’s financial situation, so a lower-earning spouse can enjoy a standard of living similar to the one they had while they were married. If a couple does not have a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement that specifies an alimony arrangement, they can reach an informal agreement and simply seek court approval.
However, if spouses can’t reach an agreement on their own, the spouse seeking alimony can file a motion with the court asking a judge to settle the matter. When a New York judge makes an alimony determination, they typically consider a variety of factors, which may include:
- The length of the marriage
- The overall division of the marital property
- The age and health of each spouse
- The income and assets of each spouse, including insurance benefits
- The current and future earning capacity of each spouse
- Any reductions in the earning capacity of either spouse due to educational or career delays that benefited the other spouse
- The cost and time needed for either spouse to obtain enough education or training to support themselves
- Any actions of one spouse (e.g., abuse) that could limit the other spouse’s ability to seek employment or increase their earning capacity
- The existence of any children or other dependents who will need care, financial support, and living arrangements
- Exceptional needs for things like a child’s education or medical care
- The tax implications of either party making or receiving alimony payments
- The contributions and services of the spouse seeking alimony, which includes homemaker contributions and childcare
- The wasteful use, hiding, or unfair transfer of any marital assets by either spouse
Does Adultery Have an Impact on Alimony or Divorce in New York?
If a marriage breaks down due to adultery, the court will not automatically award alimony. In fact, judges typically don’t even consider infidelity when making alimony determinations.
However, adultery may serve as grounds for a “fault” divorce. Divorcing couples in New York may seek either “no-fault” or “fault” divorces, with no-fault divorces generally being less expensive and less complicated.
In a fault divorce, the court will likely ask you to provide evidence of adultery, which is explicitly defined in state law as having sexual intercourse with a non-spouse. If you can demonstrate that cheating occurred and that it directly contributed to the divorce, the at-fault spouse may be barred from seeking alimony.
Can Adultery Impact Property Division, Custody, or Child Support?
Adultery will typically not affect court decisions regarding property division, child custody, or child support in a New York divorce case. However, there may be exceptions in certain circumstances.
For instance, if one spouse used up a significant portion of marital assets in an adulterous relationship, a judge may decide this qualifies as wasteful. If this occurs, any spending associated with the infidelity may be a factor in the judge’s decision.
Another possible exception could include a new partner who poses a potential threat to a child. If one parent’s new partner seems dangerous, the court may decide it’s in the child’s best interest to remain with the other parent, ultimately affecting a custody determination.
Contact a New York Alimony Attorney Today
If you are seeking spousal support or have received a demand to pay, a skilled New York alimony attorney can serve as your personal guide and advocate.
At The Mandel Law Firm, we can help you understand your options and pursue an alimony arrangement that works specifically for you. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case in a no-obligation initial consultation.