Sometimes you will hear a story about someone paying spousal support – also called spousal maintenance or alimony – to an ex-spouse for the rest of their foreseeable future. As bizarre or unfortunate as the circumstance may seem on the surface, it is actually a reality for many people. As long as an ex never remarries and cannot seemingly afford to live as comfortably as they did when they were married, spousal maintenance can just keep coming in, month after month.
In an attempt to stem this controversial system, New York State Governor Cuomo has recently signed a bill into law that brings a few big changes to spousal support, and aims to make it generally more temporary or balanced. This has been done by setting up a formulaic approach for family law judges to follow when ruling on divorce cases, rather than relying solely on their discretion.
While Bill A-7645 brings about a handful of changes, such as lowering income caps to $175,000 from $543,000, let’s focus on two of the biggest changes that are likely to hit the most amount of people:
- Duration of marriage: Spousal support will now only last an amount of time directly related to the length of the marriage. The shorter you and your ex were together, the shorter the duration of maintenance. For example, if your marriage lasted five years, you might only need to pay alimony for as little as nine months, depending on the situation. This frees people caught in the perpetual monthly cycle of providing money to someone they might be trying to otherwise forget.
- Enhanced earnings: To reduce how large of a payment must be made to ex-spouses, the bill also calls for the elimination of enhanced earning potential from marital property. This means that increases to your salary due to your advanced education or certifications is more likely to stay in your own pocket.
Need Help Understanding Spousal Maintenance?
To say that spousal support is a straightforward system, even after these generally helpful changes, would not be entirely accurate. There are still plenty of gray areas and loops that can get the average person stuck. If you are going through a divorce and need help with spousal maintenance or any other aspect of the process, call 212.235.1382 to speak with a New York City divorce attorney from Peter L. Cedeño & Associates, P.C. Our friendly and skillful team will get back to you as soon as we can.