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When Financial Disparities Are A Factor In A Divorce

Within a marriage, spouses often take on and play different roles. From managing family finances and paying household bills to tending to a child’s school and medical appointments, when it comes to family-related matters, many spouses opt for a divide and conquer approach. In many cases, this includes which spouse plays the role of financial breadwinner.

When a couple goes through a divorce, matters related to each spouse’s marital contributions, financial and otherwise, must be taken into consideration when dividing assets and making spousal support and maintenance determinations.

What Is Spousal Support And Maintenance?
Spousal support or maintenance may be awarded in divorce cases where there is a disparity in income between spouses. The amount awarded is meant to help a financially disadvantaged spouse maintain a certain standard of living that may otherwise be diminished during or after a divorce.

In New York State, financial payments made to an economically-disadvantaged spouse prior to a divorce being finalized are referred to as spousal support whereas payments made post-divorce are called maintenance.

What Factors Must Be Considered In Spousal Support And Maintenance Cases?
When considering whether or not to award spousal support or maintenance, the courts consider a number of factors including:

  • Length of marriage
  • Age of spouses
  • Existing child support order
  • Child custody arrangements
  • Incomes and income potential of both spouses
  • Non-economic marital contributions
  • Emotional and physical health of each spouse
  • Divorce settlement

How Are Spousal Support And Maintenance Payment Amounts Determined?
To determine support and maintenance amounts, the court uses a statutory calculation. Additionally, the above-referenced factors are also taken into consideration.

Terminating Or Modifying A Spousal Support Or Maintenance Order
Spousal support legally terminates when a divorce is finalized. The duration of a post-divorce maintenance order is typically temporary in nature and largely determined by statute. In rare cases, the court has discretion to award lifetime maintenance.

Maintenance automatically terminates if the receiving spouse remarries or if either spouse dies.

Other factors that can affect the amount and duration of a maintenance order and may warrant a modification include:
• Long-term changes in income
• Cases involving an illness or injury (ex-spouse or shared child)
• Co-habitation

If you are a New York resident who has questions or concerns about spousal support or maintenance, it’s wise to reach out to a divorce attorney for information, advice and assistance.

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