Suffolk County Alimony Lawyer Helping Clients Protect Their Rights During a Divorce in New York
Alimony or spousal maintenance is one of several important issues that need to be settled as a part of a divorce. New York is one of many states where alimony can be granted before, during, and after a divorce, but there are a few important aspects to understand before seeking alimony payments. Our firm explains how alimony works in New York and why working with a Suffolk county alimony attorney may be beneficial to your case.
What Is Alimony?
When the court orders one spouse in a divorce case to pay money to the other spouse on a regular basis, that is considered alimony. Alimony payments are usually meant to support one of the spouses during and after the divorce process until that individual becomes capable of being financially independent. Spouses may use the state’s guideline calculation to determine the amount of support, or they can negotiate an amount that is more in line with their family’s needs and include it in their settlement agreement.
In some families, one of the spouses may have played the role of the main caretaker of children or homemaker, relying on the other spouse’s income to cover basic living expenses. A divorce may mean the spouse who brought in the largest percentage of income to the household may no longer be willing to provide financial resources to the other spouse. Alimony payments enable that spouse to cover their basic needs while taking steps to gain marketable skills or education needed to earn their own income.
Is New York an Alimony State?
Either spouse in a divorce taking place in the state of New York may seek alimony under the right circumstances. Usually, the spouse with the higher income is the one ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse with fewer resources. That does not mean that alimony is an exclusive right of women, as alimony requests are largely based on income, and men can also seek alimony payments.
In New York, temporary spousal maintenance orders can be issued by the Supreme Court when they are part of a divorce. However, most alimony orders are handled by the Family Court. It is important to know that even if a maintenance order was issued by the Supreme Court, the Family Court might have jurisdiction to handle modification requests. Once an alimony or spousal maintenance order is issued, it cannot be changed or canceled without a court-approved modification request.
The duration of alimony payments is calculated based on how many years the couple was married. For example, marriages that last for 15 years or less may result in a payment duration of 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage. Marriages that lasted more than 15 years but less than 20 years may result in a duration of 30% to 40% of the length of the marriage. That percentage can be increased to 35% to 50% for marriages lasting longer than 20 years, but it is ultimately up to the judge’s discretion to follow these percentages, come up with an alternative arrangement, or – in certain cases – order alimony payments to continue indefinitely.
How Are Alimony Payments Calculated?
In New York, courts can award two different kinds of alimony. When a spouse is ordered to make support payments to the other spouse while the divorce is still pending, that is called temporary spousal maintenance. The courts may use a statutory formula as guidance to calculate the amount of each temporary spousal maintenance payment, taking into consideration whether the paying spouse will need to pay for child support or not. Once the divorce is finalized, temporary spousal maintenance payments automatically end.
When alimony is ordered after the divorce is finalized, that is considered postdivorce alimony, and payments are calculated following a formula as well as taking into consideration a long list of factors, starting with the paying spouse’s net income. Other factors include the age, health, and present or future earning capacity of the parties, whether one of the spouses needs to have the means to pay for training or education, the need for paying child support, any past occurrences of domestic violence against the other spouse or the children, among other factors.
For example, suppose a couple with children has agreed on having the wife stay at home and care for the children in order to allow the husband to pursue higher education and build a successful career. In this case, the court might understand that the wife lost her earning capacity and gave up opportunities in order to support her husband’s professional growth, and thus postdivorce alimony is necessary to enable the wife to regain her earning capacity and reenter the job market.
How Can a Suffolk County Alimony Attorney Help?
Each alimony case is different, and not everyone who asks the court for alimony will receive it. If a person has a true need to receive alimony during or after the divorce, working with a Suffolk county alimony attorney is extremely important. Parties who are in agreement with regard to alimony or spousal maintenance may also determine the amount and include it in their settlement agreement. At the Law Office of Gina M. Pellettieri, PLLC, Attorney Gina M. Pellettieri, and her legal team have assisted many clients over the years and know what it takes to successfully navigate an alimony case in Suffolk County.
Whether you are thinking about seeking maintenance payments or have been ordered to make payments to your spouse and do not agree with the alimony order, Attorney Gina M. Pellettieri is here to help. Reach out to the Law Office of Gina M. Pellettieri, PLLC, by calling (631) 320-1493 and requesting an initial consultation to see how we can help you.