How Is Spousal Maintenance Calculated in New York?

 

How-Maintenance-is-calculated-in New-YorkOne of the most common questions I received since New York enacted maintenance guidelines is, “How is spousal maintenance calculated in New York?”

Before January 25, 2016, maintenance was determined using a litany of factors, including the age of the parties, the length of their marriage, the parties’ income, their earning abilities and their health. But, using non-numeric factors meant that maintenance awards were fact dependent and all over the board.

In order to derive some consistency and predictability in the maintenance awards, statutory guidelines were enacted. Maintenance now will be calculated by applying a mathematical formula on income up to $175,000 to be paid by the spouse with the higher income to the lower earning spouse.

There are two formulas for calculating maintenance: The first for marriages where there are no children and the second for marriages where there are children and child support is being paid to the person who will also receive maintenance.

Maintenance with no children

Maintenance will be the lower of these two equations:

a. The Maintenance Payor's Income x 30%
Minus Maintenance Payee's Income x 20%
Result 1

- Or –

b. 40% of Combined Income*
Minus Maintenance Payee's Income
Result 2

Whichever result is lower will be the annual spousal support payment.

Maintenance with Children

a. The Maintenance Payor's Income x 20%
Minus Maintenance Payee's Income x 25%
Result 1

- Or –

b. 40% of Combined Income*
Minus Maintenance Payor's Income
Result 2

Whichever result is lower will be the annual support payment.

For both equations, the payor’s income is capped at $175,000. The Court has discretion to depart from the guidelines for income in excess of $175,000, employing many of the factors previously used to calculate maintenance.

Example

Pat has an income of $200,000 and Jamie has an income of $50,000. There are no children. Since Pat has the higher income, Pat would be the maintenance payor.

a. The Maintenance Payor's Income x 30%
Minus Maintenance Payee's Income x 20%

Pat’s income exceeds the cap of $175,000, so we will apply the guideline percentage to the cap.

$175,000 x 30%=52,500
50,000 x 20%=    10,000
Difference          $42,500

- Or –

b. 40% of Combined Income*
Minus Maintenance Payee’s Income

(175,000 ( the cap) + 50,000) x 40%=       90,000
Jamies’ income                                      50,000
Difference                                             40,000

The maintenance payment would be $40,000 or $3,333.33 per month.

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