Is New York’s Temporary Maintenance Law Going To Change?

It’s been a bit over two years since New Yorkpassed the Temporary Maintenance Law designed to award alimony payments during divorce proceedings. This law, passed at the same time as the New York state uncontested divorce law, provides a simple calculation that determines how much maintenance, if any, a spouse with the greater income pays the spouse with the lower income during the time leading up to the final divorce decree and the final, permanent maintenance agreement. The maintenance law itself has received mixed reviews from experts.

On the one hand, family law attorneys agree that it gives less-monied spouses immediate financial relief without weeks or months of wrangling in court. Analysts have noted that low-income couples in particular have benefited from the new law. Domestic violence advocates are pleased that the law makes it easier for abused spouses to get the resources needed to escape an abusive home rather than stay in a bad relationship. The amount awarded is predictable since it is defined by a straightforward equation, making it easier for both spouses to budget their expenses during the divorce process.

However critics point out that the New York spousal maintenance formula considers only income and not expenses. The party who remains in the family house shoulders the full burden of mortgage payments and other expenses without appropriate compensation. Some attorneys feel the law results in lower support for the less-monied spouse than they would have received previously.

As a response to these concerns, the New Yorklegislature asked the Law Review Commission to review the New York state spousal support law and present a report by December 2011. As of this writing that report has still not been completed and the 2012 legislative session is over so there will be no change in the law this year.

Easysoft has been watching these proceedings with interest. EzSupport-NY, our dedicated New York family law software, already includes a temporary maintenance calculator that automatically determines the appropriate level of spousal maintenance. If the legislature changes the law in the next session, then we will update EzSupport-NY to reflect the updated maintenance formula.

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