Alimony, or spousal maintenance, can easily become the most contested issue in your divorce. A spouse who stayed at home to support the family or who has never had a career because of medical issues may want maintenance payments to help them support themselves. Their spouse may feel like they should not have ongoing financial responsibility.
The courts will have to balance the needs of each spouse when deciding how to handle a request for spousal maintenance. What are some of the factors that will influence how a judge rules on maintenance in a New York divorce?
The length of the marriage
The longer a couple has remained married, the more intertwined their finances are. Dependent spouses will have far fewer options after a 40-year marriage than they might after only five years away from the workforce. Longer marriages may give a dependent spouse a stronger claim to maintenance and may result in a longer award as well.
The health and finances of each spouse
It is sad but true that some people don’t take their marriage vows very seriously. A person still reeling from a shocking diagnosis with cancer may soon find themselves facing divorce from a spouse who doesn’t want to deal with their illness.
In cases where one spouse does not have the ability to support themselves due to health reasons, maintenance is more likely. The same is true of situations where one spouse substantially out-earns the other or has long benefited from their unpaid work at home.
Any pre-existing agreement between spouses
If two spouses have entered into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that includes a provision to provide spousal maintenance, that agreement may stand even if the courts would not order maintenance in a litigated divorce with the same circumstances.
Understanding when the courts may order spousal maintenance can help you decide if you should request it or defend against a request for it during your New York divorce.