Articles Posted in maintenance

Maintenance-Fight-300x200While many aspects of family law may stay the same over the years, certain components may also need to be changed to adhere to the evolving nature of life in the United States. Recently, the federal tax law was changed, with the change in the taxation of maintenance (alimony) payments that came into effect on the 1st of January 2019. According to the rules of this new law, maintenance payments delivered from one spouse to another can no longer be classed as a tax deduction for the payor. Additionally, the payee no longer has to count those payments as taxable income. What this means is that there can be greater resistance to the payment of maintenance than before.

The last update in the New York State maintenance guidelines was made at the time that maintenance payments were tax deductible to the payor and taxable income to the payee. These maintenance guidelines are still in place, and at as of the time of this blog have still not been revised by the New York State legislature.  The law still reflects an environment wherein maintenance is tax deductible to the payor, and taxable income for the recipient. Accordingly the courts may decide to deviate from the guidelines for maintenance based on this change in the taxability, now that the rules are different, as deviation may be required to creating an agreement that’s fair for both parties. Continue reading

It’s impossible for anyone to predict the future with complete accuracy, as the world we live in is often a very unpredictable place. However, we can look back at the Window-Mediation-300x200lessons that we’ve learned over the years and use what we know in the present to guide predictions about the years ahead. That’s exactly what I plan to do with this blog post about mediation in 2019. This blog is conjecture and should be taken as nothing more than my best guess at what will be available in terms of alternative dispute resolution and mediation options for couples in 2019 and the years beyond.

My previous blog post discussed the complexities that we saw in mediation throughout 2018. Many aspects of mediation are likely to stay the same going forward, while other elements are bound to change. For instance, mediation will always be a helpful alternative dispute resolution option for couples who would prefer to avoid things like court-room trials and litigation. Additionally, as we move into 2019 at least, it seems that the grounds for divorces done with divorce mediators or otherwise will remain the same too. As I mentioned in my last blog, all the couples I have worked with during divorce mediation have chosen the no-fault divorce law for their procedure, since the No-Fault law was passed in 2010, while other grounds do remain available. The no-fault solution simply means that it is neither side’s fault, it’s simply the marriage that is irretrievably broken.  Fault doesn’t need to be admitted or proven for the divorce to go ahead. Continue reading

One important thing that we know about divorce mediation in December 2018 is that we can work through the settlement issues with the knowledge of the current laws that areMediation-Contract-300x200 in effect.  This includes the effect of the taxability or non-taxability of maintenance (alimony) and child support for separation and divorce agreements signed before 2019.  I know general taxation principles as they apply to divorce and family law, as every experienced matrimonial lawyer and divorce mediator should.  As always, however, I give a little disclaimer here and say check with your tax adviser, such as your Certified Public Accountant or tax lawyer, for tax advice as I do not give tax advice.

Sometimes things seem to wind down a little for a Law and Mediation Office as we move towards the end of the year.  People tend to want to deal less with their legal issues.  Less court appearances are scheduled because of the holidays, holiday parties and vacations schedules.  The same is often true on the divorce mediation side of things.  So why does it happen?  It could be that people do not want to deal with resolving their family law issues during the holidays.   People also might want to save their money to spend on gifts, trips and otherwise.  At times a couple might know that they need to move on from their marriages but want to keep it peaceful with the family until after the New Year.  Others might want to wait to start their new lives and new resolutions in the New Year.  Interestingly, I understand that the belief that January has the highest volume of divorce filings is a myth. Maybe people start working towards that in January, or soon after, but historically, according to an article in the Atlantic, August and March apparently have the most divorce filings.  Continue reading

As we have previously discussed in past blog posts, a New York family court can order payment from one spouse to another of maintenance during the pendency of Nursewithman-300x200the divorce as well as after the divorce is final. Payments made during the pendency of the divorce are called temporary maintenance, pendente lite maintenance or sometimes spousal support, and payments made following the divorce are termed spousal maintenance or post-judgment maintenance.

Under the New York Domestic Relations Law, section 236(B), a court is required to consider a formula based on income and certain factors when determining a deviation from the formula guidelines for the appropriate amount of temporary maintenance, spousal support or maintenance. By and large, the factors are similar for the two types of awards, with the difference being that spousal support or temporary maintenance is designed only to last during the divorce proceeding. When it comes to determining whether a court can order one spouse to pay for another spouse’s medical expenses, the first place to look is at the factors outlined in section 236(B).

The statute lists a number of factors that a judge should consider, none of which explicitly mention the payment of medical expenses. However, several of the factors tangentially relate to medical expenses. So, in effect, a court could indirectly take a party’s medical expenses into account.

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One of the most critical and often overlooked issues in a New York divorce is how the parties will obtain health insurance. Many families, especially those with only one working partner, rely on health insurance benefits that are obtained through the working party’s employer. However, in the event a couple divorces, those insurance benefits will no longer be available to the non-working spouse and arrangements will have to be made to provide for their health insurance.

One option a non-working spouse has to obtain health insurance after a divorce is to obtain COBRA benefits. COBRA is a federal law that requires insurance companies to extend coverage to qualifying beneficiaries in the event of a qualifying event. Commonly, COBRA benefits are offered to an employee when their position is terminated; however, COBRA benefits are also available for spouses after a divorce.

One downside of COBRA benefits is that they can be quite costly because the employer will no longer be covering any of the cost. Thus, determining how each spouse will obtain health insurance benefits and how those benefits will be paid for is often a contested issue.

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Divorce is a complicated process at the best of times, but when you’ve got a narcissistic personality to deal with throughout the entire experience, it can feel like you’re two steps away from tearing your hair out. These people make it feel as though you’ll never be able to move on with your life because they go out of their way to make the settlement as complicated as possible. Narcissists refuse to relinquish their control over a former partner, and that makes coming to terms on things like equitable distribution, maintenance, and more incredibly tricky.

according to “LiveAbout.com“, the characteristics of a narcissist might include:

  • An overwhelming need to be right
  • An obsession with control
  • A lack of interest in negotiation
  • No ability to feel remorse
  • Wants to be admired and respected
  • May go out of their way to slow down the divorce procedure
  • Hangs onto resentment and negative feelings

So, how do you deal with a narcissist in a divorce? The simplest solution is to prepare yourself for a bumpy road.

Dealing with a Narcissist in Divorce

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When it comes to dividing up assets after a New York divorce, New York is an equitable distribution state. This means that, rather than dividing up a couple’s assets straight down the middle, if a court needs to resolve the issue, a court will consider a number of factors to ensure that the marital assets are divided fairly. However, only marital assets are subject t0 an equitable distribution analysis.A spouse’s separate property — such as that which was owned prior to the marriage — will not generally be considered marital property. However, property acquired throughout the marriage, including a businesses started during the marriage, is usually considered to be a marital asset that will be subject to equitable distribution.

In addition to the distribution of marital assets, a court may also order that one spouse pay post-divorce maintenance to the other spouse. The determination of how much spousal maintenance is appropriate is governed to some extent by formula, but it is left largely up to the discretion of the judge overseeing the divorce.

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As we have discussed in previous posts, when a New York court is tasked with determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance payments following a New York divorce, the court will start with the formula contained in Domestic Relations Law section 236(b). For determining the duration of spousal maintenance payments, the statute breaks marriages down into three categories and assigns each a percentage range:

  • Marriages less than 15 years in length: 15-30% of the length of the marriage
  • Marriages between 15 and 20 years in length: 30-40% of the length of the marriage
  • Marriages over 20 years in length: 35-50% of the length of the marriage

Domestic Relations Law Section 236(b) makes room, however, for the situation where the presiding judge believes that the guidelines do not adequately account for the party’s situation. In this case, the judge can order post-divorce maintenance for a duration that is shorter (or longer) than recommended by the formula. However, if a judge decides to depart from the guidelines, she must detail her reasoning in writing.

The spousal maintenance duration formula was made law back in 2015, and there have been relatively few cases testing a judge’s limits to depart significantly above the guidelines. However, the cases that have been issued are instructive. For example, a late-2016 case presented a situation where the party seeking maintenance payments was able to obtain them for the upper range of the guidelines.

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When a judge presides over a New York divorce, one of the parties will often request to receive post-divorce maintenance payments, formerly called alimony, from the other party. Up until 2015, the determination of the amount and duration of post-divorce maintenance was largely left up to the discretion of the judge overseeing the case. However, in 2015, the New York Legislature enacted sweeping reforms of the New York Domestic Relations Act, particularly in regard to how post-divorce maintenance is awarded.

Hoping to standardize the manner in which judges were calculating and awarding post-divorce maintenance, the legislature stepped away from a standard that was almost completely relied on judicial discretion, and implemented a more formula-based system. Previous posts have discussed how judges arrive at the amount of spousal maintenance, but we have not recently looked at the durational aspect of post-divorce maintenance.

Under Domestic Relations Law section 236(b), the court still retains some discretion in determining how long a party is entitled to post-divorce maintenance payments. However, the formula for calculating the timeline provides a range of time, as a percentage, based on the length of the marriage as the presumptive time period for maintenance to last. For example, post-divorce maintenance payments in marriages lasting less than 15 years should last between 15% to 30% of the marriage’s length. For marriages lasting between 15 and 20 years, the post-divorce maintenance payments should last between 30% to 40% of the overall length of the marriage. Finally, for marriages that were over 20 years in length, the post-divorce maintenance payments should last for 35% to 50% of the length of the marriage.

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As discussed in previous posts, the judge presiding over a New York divorce has the ability to order one party to pay the other spousal maintenance. There are two types of spousal maintenance.The first is called pendente lite. Pendente Lite is a Latin term meaning “during litigation.” This is a temporary maintenance award that is designed to last only through the divorce proceeding. The justification for this order of support is that the spouse who controls the finances could otherwise cut off the other spouse’s access to money during the divorce proceeding before any judicial finding has been made. The second type of spousal maintenance is post-divorce maintenance, which continues for either a set term of years or, in rate circumstances, until death.

Both types of spousal maintenance are calculated by the formula contained in DRL section 236 and take into account similar factors. However, under certain circumstances, a judge can deviate from the maintenance amount provided by the formula by awarding more or less support, depending on the circumstances.

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