Spousal Maintenance Guidelines Enacted in New York Divorces

NY mainteance law enacted

New York has just enacted a new law to determine how the spousal maintenance is awarded in New York divorces. The law establishes guidelines to fix the length and amount of spousal maintenance both during the divorce action and following the entry of the judgment of divorce.
Until now, post- divorce maintenance was awarded based on a consideration of a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the parties, respective incomes, their health and earning potential. In 2010, a law was enacted establishing a formula for determining pendente lite maintenance or maintenance to be paid during the divorce action.
The new law becomes effective as to temporary maintenance on October 26, 2015, and to permanent maintenance on January 25, 2016.
The newly enacted section of the New York Domestic Relations Law:

  • Establishes a formula for post-divorce maintenance;
  • Fixes a lower income cap ($175,000) for applying formulas to calculate maintenance payments; reduced from $524,000 under the 2010 law;
  • Creates formulas for maintenance that take into consideration child support payments;
  • Enables courts discretion to deviate from the guideline amounts to correct maintenance totals and allow judges to determine what would be "unjust" or "inappropriate" according to individual cases;
  • Eliminates the theory of “enhanced earning capacity” from equitable distribution;
  • Ties the duration of post-divorce maintenance payments to the duration of the marriage;
  • Ends all maintenance payments upon the death or re-marriage of the "non-monied" ex-spouse; and
  • Permits judges to rule without a detailed written decision when they are deviating from the guidelines.

Check back for series of posts over the next few weeks addressing all of the provisions of this landmark legislation.

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