New York Alimony Laws and Guidelines: All About Spousal Maintenance in “NY”

The alimony laws governing spousal maintenance in New York is different from what is obtainable in other states. Read further to grasp the peculiarity of the NY alimony law.

Also referred to as “alimony” or “spousal maintenance” in Empire State, alimony is the series of payments made by one spouse (the payor spouse) to another (the supported or payee spouse) after the divorce.

Before the alimony payments commence, there has to be a written order or agreement which requires the payor to support the payee with a stipulated amount of money.

This agreement eliminates any disputes in the future about why the payment was made or when it’s not made.

All 50 states in America are alimony states, meaning states that have enacted laws permitting a spouse who cannot work full time or with a lower income to request payments from the other spouse to support themselves after a divorce.

Spousal Maintenance vs. Spousal Support in New York

Some people confuse the phrases “spousal maintenance” and “spousal support,” however there is a significant distinction, particularly in New York: While both entail one spouse paying money to the other, spousal support is provided while the couple is still married, whereas spousal maintenance is paid after a divorce.

The Family Court Act authorizes a married person to start a support procedure since couples have a legal obligation to support each other. A court does not have to separate the parties in order to award spousal maintenance. In many circumstances, a spouse goes to family court to seek spousal support because the pair hasn’t divorced but one of the spouses isn’t paying his or her support duties.

The court does not impose any time limits on spousal support awards granted in family court. As a result, the spousal support award can extend for a long time. One of the spouses must ask the court for a revision of the spousal support award in order to terminate or amend it. The court will decide whether or not to grant spousal maintenance during the divorce proceedings. Any existing family court spousal support award will be terminated once spousal maintenance is determined and a divorce is granted.

Type of Alimony Laws Practiced in NY

types of alimony

Types of alimony in New York

In New York, there are three types of spousal maintenance. It can be rehabilitative, temporary or pendente lite or permanent (post-divorce) support. The same formula is used to calculate all three of them. The only variation is when the payments are made.

Maintenance will terminate when the support order or agreement specifies. All divorce maintenance can be discontinued if either spouse dies, or if the beneficiary spouse remarries or cohabitates with some other person while depending on the financial support of their new partner.

Temporary Spousal Maintenance in New York

Temporary maintenance, also known as “alimony pendente lite,” is awarded to a spouse during the divorce process until the judge issues a final divorce decree or makes a more permanent award.

Each support situation is different, but the court will initially use a calculator to figure out how much temporary maintenance to pay. It’s critical to remember that the court has complete authority in determining the amount of interim support.

Calculating Temporary Spousal Maintenance in NY

Starting from 2010, New York law has required judges to compute interim assistance using a statutory formula. Rather than relying exclusively on the judge, the established formula helps to keep temporary payments consistent and uniform.

In 2019, the court will utilize this formula to determine temporary support, which takes into account:

  • The income of each party (up to $184,000 for the paying spouse), as well as
  • whether or not the paying spouse will additionally pay child support.

The court will choose one of three models to create the final award:

  • deduct 25% of the payor’s earnings from 20% of the payee’s earnings
  • deduct 20% of the payee’s income from 30% of the payor’s earnings, or
  • multiply both spouses’ total earnings by 40% and deduct the support spouse’s earnings from that sum.

The court will take the lowest of the three numbers and divide it by the payment frequency (for example, dividing the final award by 52 creates a weekly award.)

For support purposes in New York, a paying spouse’s income is capped at $184,000, which means the court will not consider further income unless the judge finds other grounds to increase the amount. When the payor’s income exceeds the cap, the judge will consider the following factors:

  • the parties’ age and health the parties’
  • current or prospective earning capacity
  • any child support payments
  • the standard of living formed during the marriage,
  • the length of the marriage, and
  • any other consideration deemed just and proper by the court

When a court judges that the calculated amount is “unfair or improper” and that a variation is reasonable, it must write down the adjusted figure, the explanation for it, and the factors it evaluated.

Rehabilitative Spousal Maintenance in NY

After a divorce, rehabilitative maintenance is frequent, especially if the couples’ income and employment abilities are significantly different. In circumstances when one spouse lacks the necessary job skills or education to enter the workforce and support oneself after the divorce, the court will award rehabilitative alimony.

Rehabilitative support is temporary and prevalent in situations where one spouse stopped working to help in care for the family.

Permanent Spousal Maintenance in New York

Permanent maintenance is a monetary payment made by one spouse to the other after the divorce is finalized by the court. The length of relief is usually determined by the court depending on a number of variables, including the length of the marriage. Permanent alimony is usually reserved for:

  • Long marriages
  • when the income of both spouses is significantly different, and/or
  • one spouse is ill, unable to work, or otherwise unable to become self-sufficient.

Who Pays Alimony in New York?

In New York alimony law, the spouse that makes most of the money will share that income with the other spouse. The idea behind who pays for alimony is to considerably level up the living standard of the dependent spouse to what it was while the marriage was on.

Regarding the sex that pays, alimony in Empire State is gender-neutral, meaning either spouse can request support from the other. As long as the alimony can be provided to the requesting spouse, then it will most likely be granted.

So a husband can receive alimony from a wife in New York if the above conditions are met.

How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last in NY?

How Long To Pay Alimony

The judge will decide how long the alimony payment should last in New York

The duration to pay alimony in New York can differ depending on the individual judge and circumstances. However, you should expect to pay spousal support for a duration of 80-70% of the length of the marriage lasted. So assuming you were married for 10 years, the spousal maintenance duration will most likely be between 6 to 7 years.

As provided by the alimony laws of NY, rehabilitative and permanent support stops if either spouse dies or the supported spouse remarries.

How to Collect Spousal Support Arrears in New York

When it comes to collecting spousal support in New York, you have a few choices if your ex-spouse has failed to make alimony payments as ordered by the court. Debts for spousal support are frequently given priority among debtors under US law.

Average Alimony Payment in New York

The average amount payable as spousal maintenance in New York after divorce is determined by various factors. But the major factor you have to understand is “the standard of living of the marriage.”

To determine the final amounts for rehabilitative and permanent support in NY, the courts in NY take into consideration the income of the spouses, plus other factors like:

  • earning capacity of each spouse.
  • the ability of the paying spouse to pay, considering assets, the standard of living, earning capacity, as well as earned and unearned income.
  • the extent of contribution the supported spouse gave to the other’s educational pursuit or professional license during the marriage
  • how long the marriage lasted
  • the needs of each spouse
  • the assets and debts of each spouse including separate property
  • each party’s tax consequences
  • the ability of the supported spouse to gain employment without interfering with their children’s care
  • each spouse’s health and age
  • each party’s balance of hardships
  • whether there is a documented history of domestic violence against the children or either party
  • will the dependent spouse be self-supporting within a reasonable period
  • any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse
  • any other factors which the court wishes to consider

This is the main measure the court uses to determine the amount to be paid in Empire State. The principle behind the standard of living of the marriage is that after the marriage breakup, both spouses should continue living within the same standard they lived while the marriage lasted.

How Alimony is Calculated in NY

How Alimony is Calculated

How Alimony is Calculated in New York

The amount to be paid as spousal support in New York is calculated after considering the above-stated factors. Whichever option is adopted it is reflected in the Alimony Calculator

But to be explicit about how to calculate spousal support in NY, you may need to consult your spousal support attorney.

>>> New York Spousal Maintenance Calculator

Importance of Using a Skilled New York Spousal Support Attorney

If you’re getting a divorce in New York and need to negotiate or re-negotiate spousal support, you’ve definitely got a lot of questions and want to seek competent legal guidance. Though state Supreme Courts have supported lifetime spousal support,
your circumstances may or may not fulfill the requirements. NY courts may judge your case differently based on the merits of you and your previous spouse. There are so many variables to consider.

If you want to get spousal support for the rest of your life or if you want to fight against it in New York, an expert divorce lawyer can help. Depending on the objective and the desire of the adversary attorney to bargain in good faith, you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.

For the convenience of our members, we have an up-to-date directory of ????? divorce and spousal support attorneys who can help with a variety of issues. For legal advice and representation on spousal support that is powerful and well-informed.

Click Here to Get our Free New York Alimony recommendation.

FAQ About New York Alimony Laws

Here are Frequently Asked Questions about spousal maintenance laws in NY:

Can a Husband get Alimony in NY?

Yes. In New York, alimony payment is gender-neutral, meaning the sex that pays or receives is not the main determinant, but other factors as stated above. For details click here.

Who Qualifies for Alimony in New York?

Just as either spouse can pay or receive, the party that qualifies to receive spousal support is the dependent party while the marriage lasted. This means that in NY, the spouse that had lesser or no income when the marriage was on is also the one qualified to receive alimony. Click here for details

How Long do you have to be Married to get Alimony in NY?

To understand how long alimony lasts in New York, you have to take into consideration how long the marriage lasted.

However, bear in mind that there is no limit to the duration you can pay or receive alimony for marriages that lasted 10-20 years or more. Any marriage that lasted below 20 years will not pay nor receive alimony that exceeds 50% of the duration of the marriage.

Is Alimony Tax Deductible in New York?

Following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which altered the link between alimony and taxes dramatically in New York and all over the US, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible for the payer and are no longer recognized as
income for the recipient spouse as of January 1, 2019.

Is Alimony Mandatory in Empire State?

Alimony is mandatory in New York as long as one of the spouses earns or owns assets that can be relied upon to support the other spouse after the marriage breaks down.

Can Alimony be increased in New York?

Alimony amount or duration can be increased or decreased due to changes in the financial circumstances of the parties in different ways, including:

  • an increase or decrease in the income of the alimony recipient
  • if it’s determined that the original alimony awarded is inadequate
  •  loss to the alimony recipient’s financial assets
  • an increase in the justified expenses of the alimony recipient
  • when the financial condition of the receiving spouse fails to improve as originally expected

Can you go to Jail for Not Paying Spousal Support in NY?

Technically, you will not be jailed for not paying alimony in New York. While there are varying consequences for not paying alimony, you can still end up in jail as a result. Here is how.

If it’s a New York court-ordered spousal maintenance that you refuse to pay, it means you are in violation of a court order meaning you can be prosecuted for being in contempt of court if contempt proceedings are brought up against you. This could attract a jail term in NY}.

How to Modify Spousal Support in NY?

How to Avoid spousal support

How to Avoid spousal maintenance in New York

When necessary, New York law allows for a spousal support modification. When it comes to alimony, courts in NY usually try to do their best to create judgments that are fair and effective in the long run. Nevertheless, conditions change over time, and these changes may compel a revision or modification of the initial order.

When filing for a spousal support modification in New York, keep in mind that the courts will only entertain the motion if there has been a significant and long-term change in circumstances. A brief problem is unlikely to be significant enough to warrant a revision in the initial alimony ruling. Likewise, dissatisfaction with the support order is not a valid reason for a revision in NY.

The following are some of the most common reasons for requesting an alimony modification in New York:

  • Retirement
  • Remarriage
  • Relocation
  • Changes in income or employment
  • Birth of a new child
  • Health changes, including disability
  • A new dependent

How to Avoid or End Spousal Support in NY?

In Empire State, the spouse paying the alimony can successfully avoid or stop the alimony payment if he/she is able to prove any or all of the following points:

  • that the dependent spouse is guilty of infidelity
  • the spouse proves that he has no source of income
  • the spouse remarries and has to take care of the new spouse however, he/she will continue paying the child support for children if any
  • if the spouse is disabled and unable to earn a living

Alimony Laws in all 50 States

A Alabama  |  AlaskaArizonaArkansas
C CaliforniaColoradoConnecticut
D-H DelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaii
I IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa
K-L KansasKentuckyLouisiana
M MaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontana
NebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth Dakota
P-S  PennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth Dakota
T-U  TennesseeTexasUtah
V-W  VermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.