Suffolk County Spousal Support Lawyer – Transitioning Through Divorce

Facing a divorce may be one of the most stressful phases of one’s life and failing to seek legal representation from a top Suffolk County spousal support lawyer will the transition to the next stage of life far more difficult than it needs to be.

One of the most contentious issues in a divorce is whether one ex-spouse will pay the other spousal maintenance (sometimes known as alimony or spousal support), and, if so, how much and for how long. Our Suffolk County alimony lawyer can assist with this most difficult and stressful aspect of any New York State divorce.  Louis L. Sternberg and staff work tirelessly to help you protect your long-term financial interests and your maintenance in a Suffolk County divorce. We are prepared and experienced in handling all facets of a high net worth divorce including maintenance in high earning families.  We attempt to resolve our cases amicably and expeditiously but we are fierce litigators ready for trial in your maintenance case.

Spousal support and maintenance, often referred to as alimony in other states, is a legal concept in New York that involves one spouse providing financial support to the other spouse during or after a divorce or separation. The purpose of spousal support is to help the lower-earning or financially disadvantaged spouse maintain a similar standard of living to what they enjoyed during the marriage, at least temporarily, or to help them become financially self-sufficient.

Types of Maintenance in New York

Spousal Support – Guidance from Our Suffolk County Spousal Support Attorney

In New York, spousal support in the context of a Family Court case typically refers to financial assistance provided to a spouse during the course of the marriage. According to Section 412 of New York’s Family Court Act, “[a] married person is chargeable with the support of his or her spouse and, if possessed of sufficient means or able to earn such means, may be required to pay for his or her support a fair and reasonable sum, as the court may determine, having due regard to the circumstances of the respective parties.” The key to this provision is that this support obligation exists during the marriage – specifically, Family Court spousal support cases are generally litigated when the parties remain married and there is no divorce action pending.  Family Court spousal support awards generally continue until the marriage is dissolved by way of a divorce. This non-durational component of Family Court spousal support orders is an essential consideration and one that is frequently overlooked.


Temporary Maintenance

Temporary maintenance in a New York divorce refers to financial support that one spouse may be required to pay to the other spouse during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. It is designed to provide financial assistance to the lower-earning or financially disadvantaged spouse while the divorce case is ongoing. Temporary maintenance ensures that both spouses can maintain a reasonable standard of living during this transitional period.  Temporary maintenance, by its nature, lasts only during the pendency of the divorce action.  Temporary maintenance is distinct from any spousal support or maintenance that may be awarded as part of the final divorce settlement. The determinations for temporary and final maintenance may differ.

Post-divorce Maintenance

In a New York divorce, “post-divorce maintenance” or “post-judgment maintenance” refers to maintenance payments that are ordered by the court and are payable after the divorce judgment has been finalized. This type of maintenance is distinct from temporary maintenance, which is paid during the divorce proceedings, and it comes into play after the divorce is officially concluded. The purpose of post-divorce maintenance is to provide ongoing financial support to a spouse who is eligible for such support after the divorce is finalized. It aims to help the lower-earning or financially disadvantaged spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living post-divorce, taking into consideration factors such as their financial needs and the ability of the paying spouse to provide support.

Post-divorce Maintenance can be either durational or permanent

In New York, spousal maintenance can be classified into two main categories: durational maintenance and permanent maintenance. Durational maintenance is awarded for a specific period of time or duration following a divorce. Its primary purpose is to provide financial support to the recipient spouse for a fixed period to help them become financially self-sufficient or to adjust to a new financial situation.

Conversely, permanent maintenance, as the name suggests, is awarded to provide ongoing financial support to the recipient spouse for an indefinite or extended period. It is typically awarded when the recipient spouse is unlikely to achieve financial self-sufficiency due to factors such as age, health, or disabilities.  Permanent maintenance is generally awarded when the court determines that the recipient spouse has a long-term need for financial support. It is more common in marriages of longer duration or when one spouse has significant financial advantages over the other.

Calculation of Maintenance in Suffolk County and How Much is Spousal Support in NY?

Maintenance in Suffolk County is presumptively calculated based on statewide formulas.  New York’s Domestic Relations Law establishes several formulas to determine the presumptive maintenance amount and advisory duration.  The presumptive amount and advisory duration are each subject to negotiation and judicial determination after trial.

Formula for Calculating Maintenance

  • When there are no unemancipated children at issue, the presumptive amount of maintenance is the lesser of:
  • 20% of the Higher Earning Spouse’s income MINUS 25% of the Lesser Earning Spouse’s income
  • 40% of the combined income MINUS the Lesser Earning Spouse’s income
    When there are unemancipated children, the presumptive amount of maintenance is the lesser of:
  • 30% of the Higher Earning Spouse’s income MINUS 25% of the Lesser Earning Spouse’s income
  • 40% of the combined income MINUS the Lesser Earning Spouse’s income

It must be noted that the Higher Earning Spouse’s income is presumptively capped at a sum calculated on a bi-annual basis in relation to the Consume Price Index.

Maintenance Factors and Deviation

In New York, when determining post-divorce spousal maintenance in divorce cases, the court considers a set of 15 statutory factors provided by New York’s Domestic Relations Law Section 236(B)(6)(a). These factors help the court make a fair and equitable decision regarding the amount and duration of maintenance. Here are the 15 maintenance factors in New York:

  1. the age and health of the parties;
  2. the present or future earning capacity of the parties, including a history of limited participation in the workforce;
  3. the need of one party to incur education or training expenses;
  4. the termination of a child support award before the termination of the maintenance award when the calculation of maintenance was based upon child support being awarded which resulted in a maintenance award lower than it would have been had child support not been awarded;
  5. the wasteful dissipation of marital property, including transfers or encumbrances made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration;
  6. the existence and duration of a pre-marital joint household or a pre-divorce separate household;
    acts by one party against another that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a party’s earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment. Such acts include but are not limited to acts of domestic violence as provided in section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law;
  7. the availability and cost of medical insurance for the parties;
  8. the care of children or stepchildren, disabled adult children or stepchildren, elderly parents or in-laws provided during the marriage that inhibits a party’s earning capacity;
  9. the tax consequences to each party;
  10. the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
  11. the reduced or lost earning capacity of the payee as a result of having forgone or delayed education, training,
  12. employment or career opportunities during the marriage;
  13. the equitable distribution of marital property and the income or imputed income on the assets so distributed;
  14. the contributions and services of the payee as a spouse, parent, wage earner and homemaker and to the career or career potential of the other party; and
  15. any other factor expressly found to be just and proper

These factors provide the court with the flexibility to tailor maintenance awards to the unique circumstances of each case. It’s essential to note that maintenance determinations in New York can be complex, and the specific terms can vary based on individual circumstances and court decisions. Having an experienced Suffolk County spousal support attorney to guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf is critical.

Suffolk County Spousal Support Insights: Durational vs. Permanent Maintenance

The duration of maintenance in New York is determined based on a combination of statutory guidelines and the specific circumstances of the divorcing parties. Unlike child support, which has specific duration guidelines based on the child’s age, spousal maintenance duration is more flexible and discretionary.

Statutory Guidelines.  New York’s Domestic Relations Law Section 236(B)(6)(b) provides general “advisory duration” guidelines for the duration of maintenance based on the length of the marriage. These guidelines serve as a starting point for the court’s decision:

  1. For marriages of up to 15 years, maintenance may be awarded for 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage.
  2. For marriages of 15 to 20 years, maintenance may be awarded for 30% to 40% of the length of the marriage.
  3. For marriages of over 20 years, maintenance may be awarded for 35% to 50% of the length of the marriage.

These percentages are calculated based on the number of years of marriage, and the specific percentage within the range depends on the court’s discretion and the unique circumstances of the case.

Court’s Discretion.  While the statutory guidelines provide a framework, the court has discretion to deviate from these guidelines based on various factors. The court considers the 15 maintenance factors outlined in New York’s Domestic Relations Law Section 236(B)(6)(a) to make an equitable determination of the maintenance duration.  The court also takes into account the unique circumstances of the divorcing parties, including the financial needs of both spouses, their earning capacity, health, age, and any other relevant factors. The goal is to ensure that the maintenance order is fair and reasonable for both parties.

Conversely, an award of Spousal Support from the Family Court, outside of the context of a divorce, is non-durational according to statute.  As such, it continues unless and until the parties are divorced, or the order is otherwise modified to a different sum after further litigation.

It’s important to understand that the specific duration of spousal maintenance in New York can vary widely from one case to another, depending on the unique facts and circumstances involved. If you are involved in a Suffolk County divorce case and have questions about Suffolk County spousal maintenance, you need experienced Suffolk County spousal support attorney to guide you through this difficult journey. A Suffolk County divorce attorney can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and help you navigate the process effectively.

We proudly serve as Suffolk County divorce lawyers. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn how our spousal support and divorce lawyers in Suffolk County can help. Reach us at 631-600-3295 or through our online intake form to reach us 24 hours a day.

Suffolk County Spousal Support Attorney FAQs – Common Questions about Maintenance in New York

Can a Man Get Alimony in Suffolk County?

Yes, in New York State, both men and women can be eligible to receive maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony, under certain circumstances. Maintenance is not gender-specific and, instead, is typically awarded during or after divorce proceedings to provide financial support to a spouse who may have a lower income or earning capacity, or who is financially dependent on the other spouse.

How Many Years Do You Have To Be Married To Get Alimony In Suffolk County, NY?

New York law does not set forth a minimum number of years of marriage before one becomes entitled to maintenance or alimony.  Instead, the courts generally look to the advisory schedule to determine the length of maintenance.  While the courts have discretion to deviate from the advisory schedule, it is generally true that the longer the marriage, the more likely the court is to award maintenance.

How Does Adultery Affect Maintenance?

In New York, adultery generally does not affect the entitlement to or amount of maintenance.  Instead, the statutory formulas, based on each party’s income or earning capacity, will presumptively determine whether each party’s entitlement and obligations.

In New York, What Are the Tax Consequences of Maintenance and Spousal Support?

The tax implications of spousal support and maintenance in New York (and throughout the United States) have undergone significant changes due to federal tax law changes that took effect in 2019. These changes are applicable at the federal level, and state tax laws may also play a role.

  • Payer’s Tax Deduction (Federal Level). Prior to 2019, the payer of spousal support or maintenance could deduct the payments from their federal income taxes. However, with the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017, this deduction was eliminated for divorce agreements executed or modified after December 31, 2018. This means that for divorces finalized or modified after that date, the payer can no longer deduct spousal support payments on their federal income tax return.
  • Recipient’s Taxation (Federal Level).  Before the TCJA, recipients of spousal support had to include the payments as taxable income on their federal tax return. However, this tax treatment remains unchanged. Spousal support received is generally considered taxable income at the federal level unless the divorce agreement specifies otherwise.
  • State Tax Laws.  State tax laws can vary, and some states may have different rules regarding the taxation of spousal support or maintenance. In New York, for instance, spousal support is generally treated the same as at the federal level. Recipients typically report it as taxable income, and payers do not get a deduction for it.

It’s essential to note that tax laws change frequently and an accountant or tax professional should be consulted when analyzing any potential settlement agreement or trial strategy.  Additionally, tax laws and regulations can be complex, and their implications can vary based on individual circumstances, so seeking professional guidance is advisable to ensure compliance with tax laws and to make informed decisions during divorce or spousal support negotiations.

What Is The Maintenance Cap in Suffolk County, New York?

According to statute, the maintenance payor’s income is to be “capped” at a sum determined on a bi-annual basis.  When the payor’s income exceeds that sum, the court has discretion but is not required to utilize any income above that sum when calculating the presumptive maintenance obligation.  As such, in high income cases, one of the most critical issues is litigating the appropriate income cap above the statutory sum.

Updates on the bi-annual adjustment to the income cap can be found at the New York Court’s – What’s New in Matrimonial Legislation, Court Rules & Forms.

How is Maintenance Determined in a High Net Worth Divorce

In a high net worth divorce or high-income cases where the payor’s or payee’s exceeds the income cap used in the guideline calculation, the court may consider additional factors to determine the appropriate maintenance amount.  These additional factors can include the lifestyle and standard of living established during the marriage, the needs of each party, the non-monetary contributions of each party to the marriage, and other relevant factors.  Proper litigation of these factors is one of the most crucial components to any high income maintenance case in New York.  Speak to a  Suffolk County spousal support attorney today to begin your preparation for this crucial component of your divorce.

Suffolk County Spousal Support Attorney- Advocacy and Experience

The Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg is a recognized leader and respected advocate on all maintenance cases in Suffolk County, Long Island.  We are committed to helping you navigate the complexities of spousal support and alimony cases with compassion, expertise, and a track record of success.  With over a decade of of experience, we have a deep understanding of New York’s spousal support laws and how they apply to Suffolk County residents.  We litigate maintenance every day and we know not merely the law but the customs and practices of litigating maintenance in Suffolk County. Our intimate knowledge of Suffolk’s legal landscape gives us a unique advantage in advocating for our clients’ best interests.  We prioritize your needs and objectives, tailoring our strategies to secure the best possible outcomes for you.

Free Consultation with a Suffolk County Spousal Support Lawyer

When you are facing a divorce in Suffolk County or elsewhere in Long Island, you will inevitably have questions for a divorce attorney about maintenance, spousal support, and other aspects of a divorce. Spousal support is frequently a highly contentious component of a divorce. Regardless of whether you are opposing a demand for spousal support or seeking support, the team at the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg is here as your experienced Suffolk County spousal support attorneys.  At the Suffolk County office of Louis L. Sternberg, P.C., we proudly work with our clients to ensure that they understand New York’s maintenance laws. Use our convenient our intake form or call us by phone at (631) 600-3295  to speak to a Suffolk County alimony lawyer and schedule your free consultation today!