Woman signing divorce documents

The Types of Alimony (Maintenance) Available in New York

By David Hammond

In New York, what is commonly known as “alimony” is referred to as “maintenance.” Maintenance are support payments made from one spouse to the other spouse. They are ordered when there is a need on the behalf of one spouse and an ability to pay on behalf of the other spouse. That is why maintenance ends up being ordered when there is a big disparity in earning ability between the two spouses. The precise payment is calculated by New York’s maintenance support formula. These payments can occur either during or after the spouses have divorced. The timing of the payments and length of payments will depend on the type of maintenance ordered by the court.

The Types of Alimony (Maintenance) Available in New York

New York has two different types of maintenance that may be awarded in a divorce. These three types differ based on the timing of the payments. The first type of maintenance, pendente lite, is also referred to as “temporary maintenance” and it is paid from one spouse to the other spouse while the divorce process is still pending. It will usually end upon the finalization of the divorce. Pendente lite maintenance will be awarded if one spouse can show a financial need for the support. If this happens, the court will employ the statutory guidelines to calculate the amount of support to award.

The other type of maintenance is post-divorce maintenance which, as its name suggests, is paid from one former spouse to the other former spouse once the divorce has been finalized. An award of post-divorce maintenance will largely be based on the length of the marriage and the incomes of the spouses. The court will use New York’s statutory guidelines to determine the baseline of support.

In addition to the statutory guidelines, New York courts will evaluate a number of other relevant factors in determining an alimony award. You see, the guidelines have a standardized calculator which will suggest a post-divorce maintenance amount, but judges do have discretion in deciding whether an increase or decrease in that amount is merited. Factors that a judge can consider in rendering this decision often include:

  • The spouses’ ages
  • The spouses’ earning capacities (both present and future)
  • The spouses’ access to medical insurance and its cost
  • A spouse’s need for further education or training
  • Tax liabilities for each spouse
  • The standard of living established when the spouses were married
  • Any missed opportunities a spouse forewent during the marriage
  • Any caregiving contributions a spouse made during the marriage
  • Any waste of marital assets 
  • Any factor the court believes to be just and proper to consider in the maintenance calculation

Family Law Attorneys

Maintenance awards and other important decisions rendered during the divorce process can have a far-reaching impact on your finances and your future. Trust the dedicated team of family law attorneys at CDH Law to advocate on your behalf during this critical process. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.