Navigating The Confusing Alimony Laws

One of the most commonly disputed issues during divorce ― particularly a high-asset divorce ― is alimony. Known simply as maintenance or spousal support in New York, alimony payments are based on the idea that one spouse may not be able to meet his or her basic needs without additional help and that he or she may need time and money to develop the skills necessary to become self-supporting.

Given the complex nature of New York's maintenance laws, you will need to speak to a knowledgeable alimony attorney if you believe spousal maintenance will be a contested issue during your divorce. Fortunately, the dedicated legal professionals at Rieger & Fried LLP can answer any questions you may have regarding spousal support or maintenance. Serving throughout Nassau County and Suffolk County, reach out to us to learn more.

Are Maintenance Payments Possible While My Divorce Is Pending?

After a divorce action has begun, either spouse can seek temporary maintenance, which is also known as pendente lite.

Essentially, this type of temporary support is determined using a statutorily created formula that takes into account both spouses' incomes. However, the court may deviate from this formula under rare circumstances, such as when using the formula would lead to an unjust or inappropriate result.

Post-Divorce Maintenance

Unlike temporary spousal maintenance, there is no predetermined formula for calculating alimony payments following a New York divorce. Instead, a court considers factors that may include:

  • The standard of living established by the couple during their marriage
  • The property and income of each spouse, taking into account the distribution of marital property
  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The sacrifice by the recipient spouse of his or her career during the marriage
  • Whether the recipient spouse can become self-supporting, including the time it would take to obtain required training or education
  • Whether the supporting spouse has the ability to pay

Ultimately, the court has significant discretion when it comes to the amount and duration of post-divorce maintenance. For instance, the payments can be permanent or for a fixed amount of time. In either case, maintenance payments terminate if either spouse dies or if the recipient spouse remarries.

In some cases, couples attempt to avoid the issue of spousal maintenance altogether by executing a prenuptial agreement, which can pre-emptively address the issue of alimony should the couple divorce. However, as with any legal matter, it is best to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney if you have questions about prenuptial agreements.

We Offer Initial Consultations

If you wish to speak to an experienced spousal support lawyer, contact Rieger & Fried LLP as soon as possible. Reach out to us online or call us at 516-712-2268. From our office in Garden City, we help clients throughout Long Island and the surrounding areas, including those in Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.