In New York, as is the case in other states, the amount of alimony you can receive while your divorce is pending and in the years that follow is determined by an algorithm that considers both parties’ incomes, earning capacities, and any other relevant personal needs.

Why Do you Have to Pay Alimony?

The court may require an individual to pay alimony to his or her former spouse in order to help that spouse maintain the lifestyle he or she enjoyed during the marriage and to give him or her time to build the skills necessary to become financially self-sufficient. Typically, alimony is awarded to individuals who took on lower-paying work or opted not to work at all during their marriages in order to care for their households and children.

Often, these individuals do not have the skills to re-enter the workforce, or even to enter it for the first time, when their divorces are finalized. By choosing to take low-paying or even non-paying work during the marriage, their efforts supported their spouse’s careers and enabled them to earn higher salaries. Alimony is a way to ensure that individuals who contribute to their marriages in non-financial ways can enjoy the financial benefits of their labor.

How is Alimony Determined?

There are two types of maintenance an individual can receive: pendente lite and post-divorce maintenance.

Pendente lite, also known as temporary maintenance, is awarded to individuals while their divorces are pending. This type of alimony provides immediate relief during a divorce. The law regarding how this is determined was revised in 2015, but it still uses strictly the incomes of the parties involved unless there is a significant issue to consider outside of these guidelines.

Post-divorce maintenance is the alimony that an individual receives after his or her divorce is finalized. This type of maintenance is determined using a long list of factors about the couple’s marriage, such as:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The financial impact of the divorce, including its impact on each party’s health insurance;
  • Each party’s present and future income; and
  • Expenses related to childcare or care of an elderly relative in either household.

How Long Does Alimony Last?

Pendente lite maintenance is terminated when the couple’s divorce is finalized.

Post-divorce maintenance can be durational, which means it is paid for a fixed amount of time, or nondurational, which means it is permanent unless the receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates with a new partner. Nondurational alimony is rarely awarded, but it can be in cases where the receiving spouse is too old or disabled to realistically find work to support him- or herself. If the receiving spouse does not remarry or cohabitate, nondurational alimony lasts until either partner’s death.

Typically, durational alimony is paid until the receiving partner completes a college degree or vocational program that will enable him or her to support him- or herself. If there is a 15 percent or greater change to either partner’s income, he or she can have the maintenance order modified through a motion with the court.

Work with an Experienced New York Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering filing for divorce, work with an experienced, compassionate divorce lawyer. Contact Theodora Alatsas ESQ today to set up your initial consultation in our Brooklyn office.

Ted Alatsas
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Trusted Brooklyn, New York Family Law Attorney helping NY residents with Elder Law and Asset Protection
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