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New law will change spousal support in New York

In September, 2015, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill which amends the formula New York divorce courts use when determining how spousal support and maintenance will be determined. The new law also instructs judges on factors they may take into consideration when deviating from the formula amount.

In drafting the language and introducing the bill to the Assembly floor, M.A. Helene Weinstein drew on the support of various legal groups with common interests in seeking amended guidelines. The committee task force assisting with the language included:

  • The Family Law Section of the New York State Bar Association
  • The New York Maintenance Standards Coalition 
  • The New York Chapter of the American Academy of matrimonial Lawyers

By the time the bill was introduced to the Assembly for consideration, it had the support of such key groups as:

  • The Women's Bar Association of the State of New York
  • The Executive Committee of the Family Law Section of the New York State Bar
  • The Board of Managers of the New York Chapter of the American Academy ofMatrimonial Lawyers 
  • The New York State Maintenance Standards Coalition

What changes?

Regarding definitions of terms., many of the provisions of the new law borrowed language from the existing law, in place since 2010. Some key highlights of the new bill include:

  • When determining the amount of temporary or post-divorce maintenance, the income cap of the payor's income will be lowered from the former $543,000/year to $175,000. The court has the discrepancy to adjust the amount if it determines that the amount to be paid is unjust based on a variety of factors, which will be recorded in the case records.
  • The court has the option of determining that specific family expenses should be paid by either of the parties, not necessarily the payor.
  • When determining post-divorce maintenance, new factors to be considered include the termination of child support and income earned from assets which were part of the divorce property distribution, e.g. commercial or residential real estate rental income
  • The court now has more discretion in determining the duration of the temporary maintenance award, not to exceed the date of post-divorce support award. The court must also anticipate reduced income from retirement, as well as eligibility age to begin receiving retirement distribution.
  • "Enhanced earning capacity" will no longer be considered a marital asset to be considered in the formula.

There are other additional minor changes that mostly effect the leeway judges have in applying the criteria. For the most part, the law continues to follow the former law modified and enacted in 2010.

Get Your Questions Answered First

If your pending New York divorce will include considerations of temporary spousal support or post-divorce maintenance, talk to an experienced lawyer at Curt Arnel & Associates in Brooklyn, serving clients throughout the Five Burroughs and the New York City Metropolitan Area.

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