Alimony Isn’t Forever–It Just Feels That Way

When two spouses have significantly different salaries and financial resources it is common for the more-monied spouse to make monthly payments to the less-monied spouse. In a New York state uncontested divorce these payments are called “spousal maintenance” rather than “alimony” but to the divorcing couple it amounts to the same thing. This financial arrangement doesn’t have to be permanent. There are several reasons why a party can petition for payments to end.

Remarriage is the most common reason for termination of New York State spousal support. When the recipient remarries, the new spouse is assumed to take financial responsibility and the payor no longer has to maintain spousal support payments, although child support will probably still be necessary.

Cohabitation can also be a reason to terminate support. Exes who try to get around the maintenance laws by living with but not marrying a partner will find that the courts will still deny support to an ex who is effectively living as a spouse. The living arrangement has to be a marriage-like relationship so simply taking a roommate, even one of the opposite sex, won’t automatically end maintenance payments.

Self-sufficiency may be a bit harder to prove but is a valid reason to end support from a NY no fault divorce. Under state divorce law, maintenance is not intended as a permanent arrangement but rather as a transition to allow a spouse, who might have sacrificed a career for domestic duties, the time to become financially independent. Once the ex becomes self-supporting, there is no longer a need for maintenance.

New children can change the New York spousal maintenance formula. Normally a payor’s romantic relationships will not affect support but if the payor has children with a new partner then these new family obligations should be considered in calculating ability to pay. This may lead to a reduction in payments so the payor has the resources to support the new child.

Significant hardship for the payor could result in a reduction or elimination of support payments. The key word here is “significant”. Job loss by itself would not be considered hardship since the payor might get a new job quickly. However extended unemployment or a considerable cut in pay could convince a judge to reduce, suspend or eliminate maintenance if those payments are clearly an unfair burden on the payor’s new financial status.

New Yorkfamily law attorneys don’t need to just be aware of these changes. They need to be able to leverage these situations to negotiate the best deal for their clients and that means they need to understand the value of the new maintenance payments. Use the powerful tools in Easy Soft’s law practice management software to analyze and appraise spousal maintenance scenarios and find the one fairest to your client.

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