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Changes to New York Alimony Law for 2016

The state legislature of New York has enacted new laws for temporary maintenance (alimony paid during the divorce process) and post-divorce maintenance. These reforms came as the result of widespread complaints that the existing methods of calculation were based on wealth redistribution rather than need and often led to grossly unfair results.

Under the new temporary maintenance law that went into effect in October 2015, the court must use income-based formulas as follows:

  • When a noncustodial parent pays child support and spousal maintenance: 20 percent of payor’s income  up to a maximum of $175,000 minus 25 percent of payee’s income
  • When payor is a custodial parent or there are no children requiring support: 30 percent of payor’s income up to a maximum of $175,000 minus 20 percent of payee’s income

The court compares this amount to 40 percent of the spouse’s combined income and orders the payor to pay the lesser amount. Here’s an example of how a calculation of temporary support could work.

Payor earns $220,000, but for the purpose of this calculation, the maximum is $175,000. Payee earns $40,000. Payee has custody of three minor children.

($175,000 x .20) – ($40,000 x .25) = $35,000 – $10,000 = $25,000

                                ($175,000 + $40,000) x .40 = $215,000 x .40 = $86,000

                                $25,000 < $86,000

Payor pays spouse $25,000 annually or $2,083.33 per month until the divorce is finalized and an order regarding post-divorce maintenance issues. Since the payor’s income is above the cap, the court can consider 13 factors in the statute to determine if any additional award is warranted. The payor is also responsible for child support.

Changes to post-divorce maintenance include:

  • Termination upon the death or remarriage of the recipient ex-spouse
  • A change in the definition of “income” to include income derived from income-producing property that is subject to equitable distribution
  • Addition of new factors the court may consider
  • A durational formula that is advisory, giving the court more discretion
  • Requirement that the court consider “anticipated retirement assets, benefits and retirement eligibility”

Whether you anticipate paying or receiving support, a spousal maintenance award has a huge impact on your financial future. For knowledgeable advice on all matters related to divorce, contact Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia for a consultation.

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