Information from a Suffolk County Divorce Attorney
Spousal support, also commonly referred to as alimony, is a legal mandate
which requires one spouse of a divorcing couple to provide financial support
to the other spouse. This mandate is made only after one of New York's
courts has thoroughly reviewed the conditions of the marriage that is
currently under dissolution.
Spousal support is considered to be a legal order, which means that adhering
to the payments expected of you through spousal support is equally as
important as abiding by any other legal direction that would otherwise
govern your actions. Therefore, you need to be sure early on that the
support schedule that is established on your behalf is one that properly
represents your ability to pay, or conversely, the amount that should
be paid to you.
Since the concept of spousal support first surfaced, New York's definition
of marriage has changed, thus calling for amendments and additions to
the original terms and conditions of the first spousal support awards
that were made in New York. Now, approximately 20 different factors are
considered before the court will readily make an award of spousal support.
To help you better understand this complicated process, our Suffolk County
divorce lawyer describes the process in detail below.
Support vs. Maintenance: There's a difference!
Contrary to popular belief, "spousal support" cannot be used
interchangeably with "spousal maintenance." Although both refer
to payments that are made by one spouse to another, they are actually
quite separate mandates from the court. Stated simply, spousal
support refers to the payments that are made from one spouse to another while the couple
is still married;
spousal maintenance refers to the payments that are made from one individual to another after
the divorce has been finalized.
A closer look at the terms and conditions of spousal support identifies
further degrees of separation between support payments and maintenance
payments. According to the terms of the Family Court Act, persons in New
York can begin a support proceeding on their own, assuming that they are
actively involved in a current marriage. Spousal support does not require
that a couple be separated or in the process of filing for divorce in
order for the payments to be made. Rather, this type of legal action can
be taken under any circumstance in which one spouse is not upholding his
or her responsibility to support the other. While many people will file
for a divorce in Supreme Court and seek spousal support the Family Court
may also be utilized if the divorce summons has not yet been filed.
If the support order is from the Family Court, before spousal support can
be modified or terminated, the court must be petitioned. Awarding modification
to a spousal support agreement requires formal petition, and if no petition
is ever received by the court, then the existence of spousal support payments
will continue. In this type of case, the only thing that would effectively
put an end to the support payments is the instigation of a divorce, at
which time the Supreme Court will then take into consideration the possibility
of spousal maintenance.
Factors Used to Establish Spousal Support in New York
As noted above, there are many factors that must be considered before the
court will oblige the request for spousal support. Therefore, it is critical
that persons who are seeking support, as well as those who wish to avoid
making unnecessary payments to an ex-spouse, immediately seek the representation
of an attorney.
At the law office of
Steven P. Kuhn, Attorney at Law, we are more than familiar with the different aspects that are reviewed
by the courts prior to the establishment of a spousal support plan. As
such, we are prepared to assist our clients in their efforts to ensure
that the proposed plan is one that accurately meets their needs. Divorced
individual who are seeking spousal support can expect the courts to review
the following circumstances:
- Duration of the marriage
- Income and property ownership of each spouse
- Present and future earning capacity of each spouse
- Age and health of each spouse
- Level of education and training of each spouse
- Living conditions prior to divorce, i.e. single-home or joint-home living
- Potential tax consequences experienced by each spouse
- Ability of maintenance-seeker to become self-supporting
- Actions of one spouse which might have inhibited the other's ability
to seek employment
- Where the children live
- Inhibitions to earning capacity that are caused by child care or ongoing
- The ability to find work based on age and experience
- Expenses of the children
- Homemaker contributions of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Distribution of property, i.e. was it equitable?
- Loss of health insurance or inability to obtain health insurance
- Transference of assets
This extensive list can be added to at any time that the court sees fit.
If another factor arises and the court expressly finds it to be fitting
and proper, it will then be taken into consideration before a decision
concerning spousal support is made. Given the high volume of aspects that
will be considered before spousal support is awarded or denied, you can
expect the process to take time. The court will not issue a decision until
they feel confident that all facets have been reviewed regarding the impending decision.
Contact Steven P. Kuhn for Legal Assistance
The state of New York takes spousal support very seriously, and so do the
professionals at our office. When you work with a divorce attorney from
the law firm of Steven P. Kuhn, you will be under the professional representation
of an attorney whose practice spans more than three decades. The legal
services that we provide to our clients cannot be matched, because we
offer tailor-made representation with a personal touch. If you're
seeking spousal support or you want to make sure that you are not asked
to pay more than should be expected of you, contact our office. A free
consultation can be scheduled to discuss the aspects of your case and
the best way to move forward.