Spousal Maintenance (Alimony Support)

Under The Domestic Relations Law, Section 236, New York courts are authorized to award maintenance (the term “alimony” was changed to “maintenance” DRL 236(B)), for a definite period of time; “durational maintenance”, or “nondurational”; an award to last until death or remarriage.

Durational maintenance awards: these awards are generally made on the premise that the dependent spouse could become self-supporting after a designated amount time. In New York, durational maintenance is more commonly awarded where the spouse seeking support is relatively young and healthy and is not required to care for young children. The purpose of the durational maintenance is to allow the recipient spouse an opportunity to achieve independence. Thus, the award should be in an amount and for a time period sufficient to give her a reasonable period of time in which to learn or update his/her work skills and to enter the employment market with a view to being self-supporting.

Lifetime maintenance: In general, lifetime maintenance is awarded where one spouse’s business expectations were promising but the other spouse had limited potential earning capacity and/ or where the recipient spouse has been older and often in impaired health and the supporting spouse was in far better financial condition.

When deciding whether to award maintenance, how much maintenance to award and for how long, NY Courts consider factors such as:

  • The spouses’ marital standard of living
  • The income and property of the parties
  • Any transfer of property by the parties in anticipation of divorce
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The wasteful dissipation of marital property
  • The contribution of each spouse to the marriage and career of the other spouse
  • The tax consequences to each party
  • Any custodial and child support responsibilities
  • The ability of the spouse seeking support to become self-supporting
  • Any reduction of lifetime earning capacity due to having foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities
  • Whether the spouse from whom support is sought has sufficient property and income to provide maintenance for the other spouse
  • Any other factor the Court deems equitable and just
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