Did you know that in New York, spousal maintenance and spousal support are two very different types of payments? While both spousal maintenance and spousal support include payments to a spouse, it’s the logistics that highlight the differences. If you’re wondering how spousal maintenance works in Rochester, keep reading to learn more from our family lawyers.

Spousal Support

In many states, spousal support is referred to as alimony (New York has not used that term for several years). Spousal support is money paid to a spouse, sometimes even before a divorce is finalized, and it is typically more of a long-term arrangement ordered by a New York family law judge.

Spousal Maintenance

This is more of a temporary arrangement, again, ordered by a judge. This type of maintenance support is typically paid while the divorce is pending. In 2016, a new law took effect that changes the way spousal maintenance in Rochester and throughout the state is paid. The new law addresses how long maintenance support can be ordered as well as how much one spouse must provide his or her partner.

Note that if the spouse who is receiving maintenance payments remarries or passes away, the payments end.

While the new laws provide guidelines, a judge can use his own discretion when a maintenance agreement is ordered. Many of our clients want to know how much they can expect to be paid if the judge orders maintenance support. Like other states, New York makes its determinations based on percentages of each spouse’s income. It’s not likely that any two rulings would be the same. A few examples: a couple decides after 15 years of marriage that they’re ready to part ways. Maintenance payments might be ordered for a duration between 15 and 30 percent of the length of the marriage.

If the union lasted more than 15 years, but less than 20, maintenance payments will likely follow a formula of 30% to 40% of the length of the marriage. If the marriage lasted 20 years or longer, one spouse can expect maintenance payments to last 35 percent to 50 percent of the length of the marriage.

A few more facts:

If a spouse had been covering his partner, he or she must continue to do so and it does not affect the spousal maintenance order. In other words, it does not lessen the amount the recipient receives each month.

Also, the recipient must include the spousal maintenance or spousal support on his annual taxes, though the recipient may not be required to pay taxes on it depending on how much is claimed. There are annual amounts that are allowed by the IRS.

Divorce is never easy and it’s rare that anyone comes out of a marriage believing the courts fairly distributed different assets between the spouses. It’s important to secure competent legal representation early on so that your rights can be protected and for the peace of mind knowing you’ve done your part from a legal perspective. Not only that, but should problems come up a year later, your family law attorney is already familiar with your case and has the files needed to ensure he provides the best options that meet your expectations.

For more information, speak to a family law attorney now.