The issue of spousal support is often a challenging aspect of the divorce or separation process. In addition to the obvious financial concerns that arise, there are many emotions associated with paying or receiving spousal support. At Vacca Family Law Group, we aim to help our clients structure realistic spousal support plans that will allow them to move forward with a sense of financial and emotional security, regardless of whether they are the party paying or receiving support.
If you live in New York and are going through a divorce, you may wonder how spousal support might be addressed in your case. Below, we have answered some common questions to get you started thinking as you prepare to consult a lawyer.
How Does Spousal Support Work in New York?
Spousal support, also known as spousal maintenance or alimony, is paid from one spouse to another during and after separation and divorce proceedings. In New York, spousal support is generally paid for the purpose of helping the lower-earning, or non-earning, spouse maintain the marital lifestyle for some period while working toward becoming self-supporting, if possible. In addition to the marital lifestyle, other factors to be considered when determining the amount and duration of spousal support include the age and health of the parties, the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each party, and whether there are children in the home.
It is important to differentiate between spousal support and child support. While spousal support is meant to help a spouse become self-supporting, child support is for the benefit of and care for the child. Under New York law, parents are obligated to support their children until the age of 21.
How Much Spousal Support Will Be Paid in New York?
New York law provides spousal support guidelines that offers a framework for determining the amount and duration of support. However, when a couple is negotiating an agreement on their own, such as through mediation or the collaborative divorce process, spousal support is often based on their current and future financial circumstances. For this reason, one party’s actual needs and the other party’s ability to pay are primary considerations.
If there is a significant enough disparity between the spouses' incomes, there may be a need to reallocate the resources available to each. The goal is to ensure that each spouse can maintain the marital lifestyle to the extent possible after the marriage ends.
The presence of children in either home and the amount of care and resources devoted to the children by each spouse will also factor into the payments. Whether you are seeking spousal support or want to make sure support payments do not overly drain your resources, it is wise to consult a qualified divorce attorney before agreeing to any spousal support arrangement.
When couples cannot negotiate an agreement for themselves, a court may have to step in and do it for them.
How Long Does Spousal Support Last in New York?
The intent for spousal support in New York is to enable the spouse being supported to become self-sufficient in time. There are three types of spousal support:
- Temporary. These payments are made to one spouse while the divorce process is ongoing and may end once the divorce is finished or a more permanent settlement is reached. Temporary support is aimed to support the lower income spouse during the initial phases of the divorce.
- Post-Divorce. This support provides one spouse with payments for a set period of time once the divorce is settled. It is meant to give the recipient spouse time to gain more training and reenter the workforce.
- Permanent. This type of support has no end date and is highly uncommon in New York.
What Qualifies Someone for Spousal Support?
A determination needs to be made whether one spouse is at a disadvantage when it comes to property, income, and other resources. The focus then shifts to the other spouse to determine whether he or she is able to meet that party’s needs and to what extent.
Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements will also often clarify whether a spouse is entitled to spousal support in the event of a divorce. This is generally set up in one of three ways:
- Both parties waive spousal support under all circumstances
- Spousal support is waived unless certain circumstances occur, such as one of the spouses stops working to care for children, or
- The couple agrees in advance that specific spousal support amounts will be paid based on the length of the marriage, the amount of assets being divided, or some other terms.
Contact Us for Your Positive Spousal Support Solutions
The lawyers at Vacca Family Law Group are ready to help you find the right fair and equitable spousal support solutions. As we resolve your questions, we focus on keeping the process amicable to avoid inflaming emotions. Reach out to us at 212-768-1115 or complete the form below to request a confidential consultation.