New York Spousal Support Frequently Asked Questions
A. Spousal support is the money one spouse may pay another upon divorce according to a court-sanctioned agreement or a court order. It may also be paid to a current spouse. Today, spousal support is usually paid in only about 10% of all divorce cases. Spousal support is also referred to as spousal maintenance.Q. Can I get spousal support if we have not filed for divorce?
A. A spouse can file a petition in New York Family Court for the other spouse to pay spousal support even if they have not yet filed for divorce.Q. Can spousal support only be awarded to women?
A. Either a man or a woman may be awarded spousal support depending upon their individual circumstances. However, men are spousal support recipients in only about 3% of the cases nationwide.Q. How does a judge decide how much spousal support to give one of the spouses?
A: A few years ago, New York revised the statute that governs spousal support in an attempt to make spousal support awards more consistent from case to case. Judges now begin their determination by using a formula based on the incomes of the parties. The formula for cases that involve child support is somewhat different from those without child support.
The judge will begin the determination of spousal support amount with one of two statutory formulas depending on whether or not child support will also be paid. New York law puts a cap on the income of the payer’s income for purposes of the calculation, but if the payer’s income is greater than the cap, the court is obliged to look at several other factors in order to arrive at a just result for the spousal support figure. In fact, even if the payer’s income is under the cap, a judge can still consider other factors if a just result demands it.
These factors include age and health, earning capacity, length of the marriage and how long the parties were together before the marriage, whether one spouse gave up their career to support the other spouse and many more factors. The judge actually has quite a bit of discretion even though they begin the spousal support calculation with a statutory formula.Q. What does the court need to know about my finances to determine spousal support?
A. Both spouses must reveal to the court all of their income and property. The court will expect to see financial records, tax returns, pay stubs and any other kind of documentation that reveals financial and property status. Once a court has these documents, it will set a schedule for valuation of property. Property spouses receive and whether or not it can produce income may have an impact on a spousal support award.Q. Can I get spousal support before my divorce is final?
A. Yes, many divorces go on for months or even years. In order to prevent hardship, the state of New York enables you to petition the court for temporary maintenance as soon as the divorce is filed. When the divorce is final if not before, the temporary maintenance will end. Of course, a judge may then award post-divorce spousal support.Q. Can I ask a court for a change in spousal support later?
A. Yes, you may be able to get a spousal support modification if there is an extreme change in circumstances such as the payer spouse retiring or involuntarily losing their job.Q. How long does spousal support last?
A: Spousal support is intended to give the recipient time and financial cushion to become self-sufficient. Spousal support is normally durational that is, it has a set duration, normally long enough for the payee spouse to become self-sufficient. New York judges begin their deliberation of the length of spousal support to award with a noncompulsory advisory schedule set out by statute. The schedule takes the length of the marriage into account in order to determine how long spousal support should last.
To decide the duration, of spousal support, judges may use an advisory schedule provided by the state of New York that lists the percent of time the couple were married as a guideline for duration of spousal support. However, judges consider a number of other factors and are not required to use the schedule at all.Q. Is spousal support ever permanent?
In New York, if a marriage lasts a long time and a spouse is old, ill or unable to support themselves, permanent spousal support may be awarded. .
However, spousal support will still end if
- One of the party dies
- The recipient spouse remarries
- The recipient spouse begins to live with a partner they represent as their spouse
A: Usually the payee spouse will pay taxes and the payer can deduct the amount.