Served Divorce Papers

Spousal Maintenance f/k/a Alimony

Served Divorce PapersSpousal maintenance f/k/a alimony is a payment from one spouse to another spouse. Maintenance is intended to assist a spouse who did not work during the marriage.  In addition, it’s for spouses who earn much less than the other spouse in providing for their financial needs after the divorce.

When two people get married, they typically vow to support each other through sickness and in health. While marriage is a relationship that comes with certain societal expectations regarding various customary commitments.  Each spouse promises to uphold, there are also legal duties that arise from a marital relationship.

One marital duty that jurisdictions throughout the United States recognize is the duty to provide financial support to one’s spouse. In many states, this duty serves as the basis for ordering a divorcee to continue making payments to their former spouse even after their marriage has ended. These payments are known as alimony, spousal support, or spousal maintenance.

The purpose of a spousal maintenance award is to give the recipient spouse economic independence.  Should be of duration to give the recipient spouse time to be self-supporting. Spousal maintenance is covered not only by case law but also Section 236(b) of the Domestic Relations Law.  A formula for temporary spousal maintenance as well as permanent spousal maintenance.

How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?

In Suffolk County, New York, the duration of spousal maintenance is generally a third of the life of the marriage. This is not etched in stone but rather a guideline. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, maintenance can be for a shorter duration or longer duration. For instance, if the recipient spouse is permanently disabled, spousal maintenance can be for a duration longer than a third of the life of the marriage. If the recipient spouse will be self-sufficient for a short period of time in a long-duration marriage, the duration can be shorter than a third of the life of the marriage. Once spousal maintenance is determined, the balance of the payor’s income is then used to determine child support, if applicable.

Although there is a formula to determine spousal maintenance and child support, your attorney will advocate on your behalf for the best possible outcome.  After knowing the entire financial picture of the parties. Not only is spousal maintenance addressed in a divorce action, but it can also be addressed in Family Court if the parties are married.

What Factors Determine Alimony?

When judges determine final spousal support, the judge must consider the factors outlined some of the factors include:

  • The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership
  • The age, health, and earning capacity of each person
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the spouses during the marriage
  • The needs of each person
  • The resources and income of each person
  • Whether a spouse might need additional education, training, and skills to obtain a job
  • Marital and separate property and debts

Termination of Spousal Maintenance f/k/a Alimony

Currently, a New York judge can set a limit on how long someone will have to pay spousal maintenance. In January 2016, the state adopted a formula for this. This is a breakdown of how that formula generally works:

  • For marriages that lasted up to 15 years, maintenance can last between 15% and 30% of the length of the marriage.
  • For marriages that lasted 15 to 20 years, maintenance can last between 30% and 40% of the length of the marriage.
  • For marriages that lasted longer than 20 years, maintenance can last between 35% and 50% of the length of the couple’s marriage.
  • There are a few other scenarios where maintenance may terminate early. Maintenance ends if either spouse dies and if the receiving spouse remarries. In some situations, maintenance can end if the receiving spouse moves in with a romantic partner full-time and the new partner financially supports the receiving spouse.

When Should You Speak With An Attorney?

As soon as possible! Spousal support payments can significantly impact your finances, whether you are receiving or paying alimony. Learning about your rights and options as early as possible helps you make decisions that are in your best interest and the best interest of your children.

Understanding spousal maintenance also helps you plan for your financial well-being after the divorce. Estimating your support payments allows you to create a budget and locate a place to live within your budget.

Legal Representation 

It is always advisable to get legal advice from an attorney of your own choosing when dealing with a divorce or Family Court matter. Your attorney’s initial primary function is to advise you as to what is in your best interest now and in the future. What a friend may tell you from his or her experience, or what happens in a television show, is not necessarily in your best interests. An experienced attorney with a strong legal background in matrimonial and family law, such as Phillip J. Jusino, is better able to help you.

Do you need legal representation concerning a divorce or Family Court matter? I invite you to contact my office to set up a free consultation by calling 631-588-3155. We have been handling divorce and Family Court matters for over 33 years here on Long Island.  Check out Phil Jusino’s book about divorce and family law titled Divorce: A Practical Guide.  The book can be purchased on

About the Author

Phillip Jusino