Spousal maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is money an ex-spouse may be required to pay the other spouse after they get divorced. When spousal maintenance is ordered by the court, it is usually for a limited time. You may be able to get maintenance if you really need it and your ex-spouse can afford to pay it. If you are in the middle of a divorce or still living together, you may be able to get temporary spousal maintenance while the case is going on. A law was passed in 2010 that provides a formula for judges to apply and factors for judges to consider in calculating temporary spousal maintenance.
In New York, you can receive or be ordered to pay temporary maintenance while your divorce action is pending. This is called “pendente lite.” Its purpose is to give the spouse who needs support immediate financial help after considering what that spouse’s current needs are.
There is also such thing as “post-divorce maintenance” in New York. This type of maintenance is awarded to the spouse that needs support after the divorce is final. The duration of this support depends on length of marriage (see duration of maintenance under Configuration and Duration of Maintenance tab).
In New York, a court can order the post-divorce maintenance award to be “durational” or “non-durational.” Durational maintenance means that you would be required to pay your former spouse maintenance for a fixed period of time. A non-durational maintenance award does not have a fixed period of time; payments are for the supported spouse’s lifetime, yet the obligation to pay may end for other reasons explained above other than death.
In 2015, a new law was passed in New York providing new guidelines (i.e. formulas) for calculating temporary and post-divorce maintenance. These new temporary maintenance guidelines only apply to divorces filed on or after October 25, 2015. Click here for the temporary maintenance calculator. The new post-divorce maintenance guidelines apply to divorces filed on or after January 25, 2016. Click here for the post-divorce maintenance calculator.
Highlights of the new law passed regarding maintenance include the following:
1. There is a new cap on the amount of income that may be used in calculating temporary and post-divorce maintenance: $175,000 (the former cap was $543,000). It is in the Court’s discretion to include income higher than $175,000.
2. There are two formulas: (a) where child support will be paid and where the [temporary or post-divorce] maintenance payer is also the non-custodial parent for child support purposes and (b) where child support will or will not be paid, but the [temporary or post-divorce] maintenance payer is the custodial parent for child support purposes.
a. With child support + maintenance payer is also non-custodial parent: (i) subtract 25% of the maintenance payee’s income from 20% of the maintenance payer’s income; (ii) multiply the sum of the maintenance payer’s income and the maintenance payee’s income by 40% and subtract the maintenance payee’s income from the result; (iii) the lower of the two amounts will be the guideline amount of maintenance.
b. With or without child support + payer is custodial parent: (i) subtract 20% of the maintenance payee’s income from 30% of the maintenance payer’s income; (ii) multiply the sum of the maintenance payer’s income and the maintenance payee’s income by 40% and subtract the maintenance payee’s income from the result; (iii) the lower of the two amounts will be the guideline amount of maintenance.
3. Temporary maintenance terminates on the issuance of the Judgement of Divorce or the death of either party (whichever occurs first).
4. Post-divorce maintenance terminates on the death of either party or re-marriage of the payee former spouse.
5. In determining temporary maintenance, the court can allocate the responsibility for payment of specific family expenses between the parties.
6. The definition of income for post-divorce maintenance will include income from income-producing property that is being equitably distributed (also see “7” below).
7. New factors in post-divorce maintenance will include: termination of child support, income or imputed income on assets being equitably distributed, etc.
8. Length of post-divorce payment: advisory durational formula:
Length of Marriage % of length of marriage for which post-divorce
maintenance will be payable
0-15 years Pay for 15% to 30% of the marriage length
More than 15 to 20 years Pay for 30% to 40% of the marriage length
More than 20 years Pay for 35% to 50% of the marriage length
9. In determining this duration, the court is required to consider anticipated retirement assets, benefits and retirement eligibility age.