Orange County Spousal Support Lawyer
Alimony, or spousal support, isn’t automatic in New York. However, in most cases, it’s an important part of a property division. Basically, judges base the need for alimony, as well as the amount and duration of payments, on the obligor’s (person paying support) ability to pay, and the obligee’s (person receiving support) economic need. These things are different from the obligor’s willingness to pay and the obligee’s economic wants.
This discussion brings up an interesting point. To some people, alimony permanently redistributes income between the ex-spouses. These people often point to statistics which indicate that divorced women are much more likely to live in poverty than divorced men. To others, alimony is a temporary measure that allows obligees to become economically self-sufficient. These people liken long-term alimony payments to ancient dowry laws, which implied that women were incapable of taking care of themselves. In New York, “spousal support” is typically awarded in a family court for the support of the spouse in perpetuity, whereas “spousal maintenance” is awarded in a divorce action and typically involves a period of years (although lifetime maintenance can also be awarded in certain circumstances).
The takeaway here is that both obligors and obligees have legal and financial rights in this area. Come what may, the committed Orange County spousal support lawyer at The Law Office of Robert Sunshine are on your side. We work hard to find solutions that uphold your legal and financial rights, both now and in the future.
Amount of Payments
The purpose of alimony is controversial, and so is the method of determining the amount and duration of payments. Some states automatically give judges unlimited discretion while others provide a set formula, much like a child support formula.
New York is a middle-of-the-road state in this area. In 2010, lawmakers added a mathematical formula to the law. Judges may follow one of three statutory models:
- Income of both spouses (x) .4 (-) obligee’s income,
- 30 percent of obligor’s income (-) 20 percent of obligee’s income, or
- 20 percent of obligor’s income (-) 25 percent of obligee’s income.
A judge must use the lowest amount of the three formulas. Note that net income for spousal support purposes often differs from net income for tax purposes. Certain deductions, such as voluntary over-withholding and 410(k) contributions, aren’t allowable.
If the spouses’ annual joint income is more than $184,000, or the judge determines that the guideline amount isn’t reasonable, the judge may award another amount, based on subjective factors like:
- Future earning capacity of each party,
- Length of the marriage,
- Standard of living during the marriage,
- Noneconomic contributions to the marriage, and
- Custody of minor children.
The same formula/factor process applies to subsequent amount modifications. Orange County spousal support lawyers handle many such matters, since financial circumstances change frequently.
Duration of Payments
Judges basically use the same aforementioned factors to determine the duration of alimony payments in New York.
Temporary alimony, which technically expires when the judge finalizes the case, helps obligees pay rental property deposits, attorneys’ fees, and other unanticipated, divorce-related expenses. Judges often continue payments in the same amount after the divorce, to further ease the transition.
Especially if the spouses have significantly different earning skills, rehabilitative alimony is very common in Orange County. These extended temporary alimony payments give obligees the resources necessary to finish their degrees, accept lower-paying jobs to re-enter the workforce, or otherwise become economically self-sufficient.
Permanent alimony is extremely rare. It’s appropriate if the obligee has a severe physical, mental, or other disability, or if the obligee has custody of a severely disabled child. In these situations, economic self-sufficiency is probably impossible.
Alimony is subject to modification if economic circumstances, mostly income, or emotional circumstances, mostly the obligee’s remarriage, substantially and permanently change.
Connect With an Experienced Orange County Spousal Support Attorney
Family law matters almost always involve emotional and financial issues. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Orange County Spousal Support Lawyer, contact The Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine, P.C. After-hours, virtual, and home visits are available.