Queens Spousal Maintenance Modifications
When a court hands down its final divorce decree with a spousal maintenance order, it with much analysis and thought. However, neither the court nor the parties can know what the future holds. Sometimes the payer spouse suffers financial setbacks or retires. Sometimes the payee spouse makes life changes. Every financial change does not warrant a modification to spousal maintenance, but some do under certain circumstances. Whether you think a change has occurred such that you should get more spousal maintenance or you think you should be paying less spousal maintenance or none at all, it would be wise to immediately contact a Queens spousal maintenance modifications lawyer. A good attorney can weigh the situation and advise you on your best options for moving forward.Calculating Spousal Maintenance
Laws in New York have changed, so before we discuss modification of spousal maintenance, let’s take a look at how a court determines it. Relatively recently, New York has begun to employ a statutory calculation as a first step in arriving at a spousal maintenance figure. The aim it so make awards more consistent from case to case and from judge to judge. There are actually two calculations: one for couples where child support is paid and one for couples where child support is not paid. The formulas involve income of the parties and deductions to that income. Either way, there is a cap on the number plugged into the formula for the payer’s income. That cap is increased every two years with a calculation that involves the consumer price index. Currently, the cap is $178,000. This will change, so check with your spousal maintenance modifications attorney in Queens, who can advise you. If the payer makes more money than the income cap, then the judge should consider many additional factors laid out in the New York statues. Even if the payer’s income does not exceed the cap, a judge can still consider factors that are “just and proper.”Determining Alimony Duration
Judges may begin their decision of how long the spousal maintenance will be with a statutory advisory schedule that advises durational alimony should be tied to the length of the marriage. So if you were married up to 15 years, it advises 15% to 30% of the time you were married should be the duration. If you were married 15 to 20 years, it advises 30% to 40%, and if you were married over 20 years, it advises 35% to 50%. Judges need not use this schedule at all if they don’t want to do so, and whether they do or not, they should then consider additional factors. It is still possible under New York law to get permanent alimony, but that’s normally reserved for the old, the sick or those who just cannot support themselves.Modification of Spousal Maintenance Is Not a Given
You may think your financial circumstances have changed to such a degree that a court will surely grant the modification of spousal maintenance that you request. But the law provides guidelines to the courts, and it may not be so simple. A Queens attorney experienced in spousal maintenance modification will probably tell you that getting your modification may depend upon whether the original amount was something you and your spouse agreed on or it was ordered by the court. If you agreed to it, then it’s harder to change it, and you have to demonstrate “extreme hardship.” If the court ordered the figure, then you only have to demonstrate “the payee’s inability to be self-supporting…, a substantial change in circumstance…, financial hardship… or full or partial retirement of the payor if the retirement results in a substantial change in financial circumstances.” In other words, you have an easier burden for modifying the spousal maintenance if you did not agree with your spouse on the amount in the first place.
The spousal maintenance will be terminated if
- The payee spouse remarries
- The payee spouse decides to live with a partner, though the judge has discretion on this
- Either of the parties dies
Whether you gain a spousal maintenance modification or successfully defend against it will in large part be due to how well your attorney presents your case to the judge. Consult with a Queens spousal maintenance modifications lawyer who has successfully handled many alimony modifications cases before. The attorneys at Stephen Bilkis and Associates have years of experience successfully representing clients New York Supreme Court and Family Court who are seeking spousal support or maintenance, or who are seeking modifications to support orders. Contact us at 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, Queens, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.