Post Divorce Maintenance Awards

Post Divorce Maintenance AwardsPost-Divorce Maintenance Awards (Lifetime and durational maintenance) for spousal support

The NY Domestic Relations Law defines “maintenance” as payments listed in a marital agreement between the spouses or payments awarded by the court to be paid for a specific period of time or for indefinite period of time. Maintenance payments terminate upon the death of either spouse, or when the recipient spouse re-marries.

The term “alimony” changed to “maintenance” by the New York Courts

The Domestic Relations Law changed the term "alimony" to “maintenance" and the New York Courts can award maintenance after the divorce, for a specific period of time "durational maintenance" or for lifetime, "non-durational" maintenance, until the death or remarriage of that spouse.

The Court must consider the standard of living of the parties that was established during their marriage, the circumstances of the case and of the spouses, whether the spouse who is receiving the maintenance award does not have sufficient property and income to provide for his/her reasonable needs and whether the spouse who is paying the maintenance has sufficient property and income to provide for the other’s reasonable needs. The court is also required to consider the income and assets of the spouses and the marital property distributed to each spouse; the length of the marriage and the age and health of both spouses; each spouse’s earning capacity; whether or not the spouse who requests maintenance is capable of self-support and, if he/she needs a period of time to acquire new skills and training necessary to be able to obtain employment; if the spouse seeking maintenance had to delay education, training, employment, or career opportunities during the marriage; the presence of children of the marriage in the respective homes of the parents; tax consequences; contributions and services of the spouse seeking maintenance as a spouse, parent, wage earner and homemaker, and to the career or career potential of the other spouse; wasteful dissipation of marital property by either spouse; whether or not a spouse has intentionally disposed of marital assets in contemplation of an action for divorce without fair consideration.

Durational maintenance

In New York, durational maintenance awards are made on the premise that the dependent spouse could become self-supporting after a period of time and where the spouse seeking maintenance needs the financial support until he or she is capable of self-support. Sometimes, the recipient spouse needs to get a college degree or learn a new skill in order to become employable. Sometimes the recipient spouse put his or her formal education and career options on hold in order to be a homemaker and raise and care for young children.

The purpose of durational maintenance is to allow the recipient spouse an opportunity to achieve financial independence. Thus, the award should be in an amount and for a time period sufficient to give the recipient spouse enough time to learn or update work skills and to enter the employment market with a view toward being self-supporting.

Lifetime maintenance

The Court will award lifetime maintenance to a spouse who, almost invariably is older, in poor health, or never worked outside the home, has minimal employment history and experience and does not have any prospects of ever becoming employed and earning an income that is sufficient to pay for his or her living expenses. In general, lifetime maintenance is awarded where one spouse’s business expectations were promising, while the other spouse had limited potential earning capacity, was older and in poor health. On the other hand, the supporting spouse (also referred to as the “monied spouse” is in far better financial condition and can provide financial support to the “needy spouse.”

Imputing income of a spouse in order to determine the amount of child support and maintenance

A court need not rely upon a spouse’s own account of his or her finances, but may impute income based upon that spouse’s past income or demonstrated earning potential. The court can properly take into account a spouse’s income from investments, voluntarily deferred compensation, and substantial distributions.

Seek the help and advice of a qualified New York divorce lawyer

Whether you are the supporting spouse or the recipient spouse, to assure that you are fully aware of your rights, contact the law office of Ingrid Gherman, a divorce attorney with long years of experience in the area of spousal maintenance and support. Call (212) 941-0767 or fill out the on-line form.