Will You Have to Pay Alimony After Divorce?

By David Hammond

Alimony, also referred to as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance,” may be one of the most controversial issues to be addressed in divorce proceedings. In fact, you may be concerned that you will be on the hook for paying alimony by the time your divorce has wrapped up. In some cases, alimony is even ordered while a divorce is still pending. While it will be up to the court to determine alimony, unless you and your spouse can reach an independent agreement on the issue, it can be difficult to say for sure whether you will have to pay alimony after divorce. Learning more about alimony in New York, how it is awarded, and how it is calculated, however, can give you some guidance on what may be to come.

Will You Have to Pay Alimony After Divorce?

In New York family court, the judge looks primarily at need and ability to pay. What are the needs of the spouse requesting alimony? Does the other spouse have the ability to provide this financial assistance? More specifically, the court will look at a number of relevant factors when rendering a determination on the question of alimony. These factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The educational or training needs of one spouse, if any
  • Whether the requesting spouse can eventually become self- supporting
  • Financial impacts of one spouse acting as primary caregiver to the children
  • How the marital property is distributed

In weighing all of these factors, the court may decide that awarding alimony in your case is appropriate. If your spouse has a demonstrated need for financial assistance and you have the ability to provide this financial assistance, then the court is likely to award alimony. The question then becomes, what type of alimony, how much alimony, and how long will you have to pay alimony.

The court may only order temporary alimony. This is support paid only while divorce proceedings are pending. Once the divorce has been finalized, this type of spousal maintenance ends. The court may order further alimony payments, but it will be separate from the temporary alimony order.

The court may also order duration or non-durational alimony depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Durational alimony is more commonly awarded. The court orders spousal maintenance be paid for a fixed period of time. This is most often ordered when the court finds that the spouse has the means and ability to eventually become self-supporting. The duration of the alimony will largely depend on the length of the marriage, although the other factors listed above will be relevant as well. For marriages that are 0-15 years in length, support guidelines dictate that alimony should last between 15% and 30% of the length of the marriage. For marriages 15-20 years in length, support guidelines dictate that alimony should last between 40% and 40% of the marriage. For marriages lasting over 20 years in length, support guidelines dictate that alimony should last between 35% and 50% of the length of the marriage.

In some cases, non-durational support may be awarded. Non-durational support will often be permanent. It may end, however, if the recipient spouse remarries or lives with a partner who they present as their spouse. Non-durational support will also end if either spouse dies.

Family Law Attorneys

Alimony can have a big impact on your financial future. Make sure your best interests are protected as the court makes this critical determination. The team at CDH Law will provide you with zealous legal advocacy. 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.