Bronx Spousal Maintenance Lawyer

In recent years, New York has revised its laws around spousal maintenance in order to make awards more consistent for similar situation. However, judges still have a lot of discretion, which is one reason among many that you should consult with a good Bronx spousal maintenance lawyer whether you are the spouse who will be paying alimony or the spouse who will be receiving it. Today, spousal maintenance is only awarded in the minority of divorces. Only 10% of cases involve spousal maintenance. In the large majority of cases, the awards go to women about 97% of the time. However, there is indication that may be to a large degree because men are less likely to ask for spousal maintenance.

The purpose of spousal maintenance in the case of divorce is to help the ex-spouse become self-sufficient. In most cases, it has a set duration. Three factors define spousal maintenance under New York Domestic Relations Law § 236 B(1)(a).

  • There must be a payment in money which may include check, money order, wire transfer, or any other means to transfer cash.
  • Payments must be between spouses or former spouses.
  • Payments must be made pursuant to a written agreement or court order. Voluntary payments do not qualify as maintenance if there is no order or agreement.

Notice that a current as well as a former spouse can collect spousal maintenance, but for purposes of this article, we will primarily be discussing divorced spouses. Your Bronx lawyer for spousal maintenance can answer questions about maintenance for both former and current spouses.

How a Court Calculates Spousal Maintenance

The court in the Bronx where you file your divorce will look primarily at the income of the parties and any income-producing property they will get in a divorce. New York law now provides two calculations that judges in the Bronx and throughout the state can use to begin their determination of a spousal maintenance award. Which one they use depends upon whether or not child support is being paid. Both parties can take certain deductions from their income as part of the formula. There is a cap on the salary of the payer spouse. That cap is $178,000 as of the date this was written, but it is adjusted every couple years according to the consumer price index. Should the payer spouse’s salary exceed $178,000, the judge must take a number of factors into consideration. Even if the payer spouse’s salary is below that cap, the judge may consider these statutory factors, one of which allows the court to consider anything that will result in a result that it “just and proper.” It will be up to your lawyer to bring these factors to the attention of the judge.

These are the factors the judge may consider under New York Domestic Relations Law § 236:

  1. the age and health of the parties;
  2. the present or future earning capacity of the parties, including a history of limited participation in the workforce;
  3. the need of one party to incur education or training expenses;
  4. the termination of a child support award during the pendency of the temporary maintenance award when the calculation of temporary maintenance was based upon child support being awarded and which resulted in a maintenance award lower than it would have been had child support not been awarded;
  5. the wasteful dissipation of marital property, including transfers or encumbrances made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration;
  6. the existence and duration of a pre-marital joint household or a pre-divorce separate household;
  7. acts by one party against another that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a party's earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment. Such acts include but are not limited to acts of domestic violence as provided in section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law;
  8. the availability and cost of medical insurance for the parties;
  9. the care of children or stepchildren, disabled adult children or stepchildren, elderly parents or in-laws provided during the marriage that inhibits a party's earning capacity;
  10. the tax consequences to each party;
  11. the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
  12. the reduced or lost earning capacity of the payee as a result of having forgone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities during the marriage; and
  13. any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper.

Also make sure to ask your Bronx attorney about temporary spousal maintenance. Divorce can take months, sometimes even years, and a spouse who qualifies for alimony need not wait until the divorce is final to get spousal maintenance. Such a delay would cause undue hardship. Your lawyer can file for temporary alimony as soon as the divorce is filed.

Also, be aware that you need not wait until the divorce decree is final to get spousal maintenance. Temporary spousal maintenance is available during all or part of the divorce proceedings to prevent hardship and to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.

How the Court Calculates Spousal Maintenance Duration

In addition to determining the amount of spousal maintenance, Bronx judges must determine the duration of the maintenance. This will vary according to individual circumstances. For example, if the recipient spouse needs to get an educational degree to be self-sufficient, it could end once they obtain that degree.

New York law provides a nonobligatory advisory schedule judges can use as a first step in figuring out spousal maintenance duration for divorce cases in the Bronx and throughout the state. They are not required to use it all though. However, they are required to consider other factors beyond the schedule for duration of the spousal maintenance. The schedule is quite simple, and suggests a percentage of the time the people were married as a guideline for the length of time alimony is paid. Here it is:

  • 0 to 15 years: 15% - 30% of the time married
  • 15 to 20 years: 30% - 40% of the time married
  • More than 20 years: 35% - 50% of the time married

Beyond what the judge orders for duration of spousal maintenance, it will still end if one of the parties dies, if the recipient remarries or if the recipient lives with a partner they hold out as a spouse.

Bronx Spousal Maintenance Lawyer

Whether you are seeking spousal maintenance or wondering if and how much you may have to pay, you should consult with a spousal maintenance attorney in the Bronx as soon as you decide to divorce. Even with new laws meant to bring some consistency to spousal maintenance awards, judges still have quite a bit of discretion, and you will need a lawyer who can make your case in a winning manner to the court. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully representing clients in the New York Supreme Court and Family Court who are seeking spousal support or maintenance. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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