When a marriage is in the process of coming to an end, it is common for one spouse to make payments to the other spouse not just throughout the pendency of the divorce proceeding but also moving forward on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. The term for these payments is spousal maintenance. Payments made during the divorce proceeding are called temporary support payments, whereas payments made after the divorce is final are called post-divorce payments. Spousal maintenance, which is intended for the benefit of the payee spouse, is different from child support benefits, which are intended for the benefit of the children of the marriage.
How New York Courts Determine Spousal Maintenance Payments
Recently, New York lawmakers passed a new law that tweaked the way spousal maintenance payments were calculated. Under the new law, if an agreement is not made between the parties and their divorce lawyers, the judge presiding over the divorce proceeding will use a predetermined formula to calculate both temporary maintenance support payments as well as post-divorce payments. Incidentally, this same formula applies to spousal support proceedings in Family Court. While the formula is somewhat complicated and beyond the scope of this post, it takes into account the following:
- Whether the payor spouse is also paying child support payments;
- The total income of the payor spouse (under the new law, only the first $175,000 of the payor spouse’s income will be used in the calculation);
- Whether the parties entered into a valid written agreement regarding the determination of spousal maintenance payments; and
- How long the marriage lasted.