Syracuse Spousal Support Lawyer
When you and your spouse are divorcing, spousal support or maintenance – formerly called alimony – is a topic that you need to address. Spousal support is not mandatory in New York, but either spouse could ask for and receive it.
The laws and practices concerning spousal support are complex, which is why it is often easier for a couple to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable family attorney. A Syracuse family attorney and spousal support lawyer may explain what the law says about alimony and help a spouse reach an agreement that reflects their goals.
Factors That Influence Spousal Support
Any spouse might receive temporary support while a divorce is pending. The money is intended to help the spouse get on their feet and establish a household as a single person. Judges calculate post-divorce spousal support using a formula that determines each spouse’s gross income but can consider multiple factors and adjust the amount and duration of support accordingly. A well-practiced Syracuse attorney may present relevant factors for the judge’s consideration that might impact their spousal support decision in a specific case.
New York Domestic Relations Law § 236B(h)(1) describes some factors the judge could consider. These include:
- Duration of the marriage
- Health and age of each spouse
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- Wealthier spouse’s ability to pay spousal support
- Amount of time the requesting spouse has been out of the workforce
- Lifestyle the couple enjoyed during the marriage
- Contributions the requesting spouse made to the marriage and household
- Need for the requesting spouse to seek further education or training to acquire marketable skills
- History of domestic violence or other actions that impeded the requesting spouse’s ability to live independently
Judges may consider any other facts that they deem relevant when deciding spousal maintenance questions. A diligent legal professional may ensure that the judge has all required information to make a fair decision.
Higher-earning spouses sometimes misstate their wealth or intentionally underearn in order to reduce their spousal support obligations. Both parties must make sworn statements regarding their assets and debts; any misrepresentation could be fraud on the Courts. When a spouse earns significantly less than they earned in the past or could be earning, a Court could impute income to them and base the support obligation on the imputed income.
Duration of Spousal Support
In most cases, post-divorce support is temporary. The money provides a safety net to ward off hardship until the receiving spouse can support themselves.
A Court Order for spousal support will terminate if either party dies or if the party receiving support remarries or begins cohabitating with someone they present as a spouse. When the party receiving support is of an age that returning to the workforce is infeasible or is in poor mental or physical health, the judge might order spousal support for life.
The law sets forth an advisory schedule that suggests linking payment duration to the length of the marriage. For example, it suggests the party leaving a marriage that endured between fifteen (15) and twenty (20) years receives support for 30-40 percent of the time the parties were married. The schedule is advisory only, and the judge could consider other relevant factors when determining how long one spouse might receive support. A skilled spousal support lawyer in Syracuse could present evidence that may persuade the judge to deviate from the advisory schedule.
Resolving Support Between the Parties
Parties could avoid having the judge decide on spousal support by negotiating an agreement themselves. Agreements usually work better and are simpler to enforce if the couple makes the decisions rather than a judge.
Mediation is often helpful in spousal support disputes. Working with a neutral third party could help both parties see the other’s point of view and allow each to speak freely about their post-divorce financial expectations.
If mediation is unsuccessful or the couple itself is not a good candidate for mediation, an experienced attorney may negotiate spousal support with the other party’s legal representative. Judges typically approve the couple’s spousal support arrangements if the agreement seems reasonable.
Work With a Syracuse Spousal Support Attorney to Resolve Issues
If your post-divorce life involves spousal maintenance or spousal support, it is crucial to know the factors judges consider when deciding these issues. Even when the parties negotiate their support arrangement without judicial intervention, knowing what the law provides could help guide the discussions.
A Syracuse spousal support lawyer may also help a couple negotiate child support. If necessary, they may represent one party before the court. Call today to discuss your situation with a seasoned attorney.