How Do New York Courts Calculate Alimony?

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Alimony, also referred to as spousal support and spousal maintenance, is often a hotly contested divorce matter as it addresses the economic disparities that arise from the dissolution of marriage. When there is a significant financial discrepancy between spouses, it can leave one party at an unfair disadvantage. To aid a dependent spouse in maintaining the same standard of living established during the marriage, the court may order the higher-earning spouse to provide alimony to the lower-earning spouse. If you’re concerned about your spousal support obligation, contact a determined Suffolk County Alimony Attorney who can help you fight for a just support agreement. Please continue reading to learn how New York courts calculate alimony.

What factors will New York courts look at when determining alimony?

Firstly, alimony is not automatically granted. The spouse seeking this type of financial support must request it with the court. The court will consider several factors to determine whether alimony is appropriate. The primary factors influencing the judge’s decision are 1) the actual need for this type of financial support and 2) the other spouse’s ability to afford this financial assistance. The specific factors that judges must consider vary from state to state. However, they typically include the following:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age and health
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage (childcare, housekeeping, etc.)
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The time needed for the potential alimony recipient to become self-sufficient, whether through education or training
  • Whether the supported spouse was out of the workforce or passed up career opportunities to care for the children and their home
  • Division of marital property
  • Tax consequences
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Any other relevant factors

How is it calculated?

For many couples, reaching a support agreement outside of court is difficult. When an agreement cannot be reached, New York courts will be responsible for determining a fair spousal support obligation. The formula to determine spousal maintenance depends greatly on the length of the marriage. Essentially, the longer the marriage, the more outstanding the award:

  • For marriages lasting less than 15 years, maintenance is 15 to 30% of the duration of the marriage.
  • For marriages lasting between 16 to 20 years, maintenance is 30 to 40% of the duration of the marriage.
  • For marriages lasting 20 years or more, maintenance is 35 to 50% of the duration of the marriage.

It’s imperative to note that there is a cap on how much spousal support can be paid based on the payor’s annual income. In the past, the cap stood at $543,000/year, but has drastically decreased to $175,00o/year.

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