Spousal Support

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 adult care
  • 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.

Steven P. Kuhn, Attorney at Law
Suffolk County Divorce Lawyer
Located at
5225 Route 347, Building 6, Suite 36
Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776.
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Phone: (631) 629-6874
Phone: (631) 928-7700
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