New NY Spousal Maintenance Law Goes into Effect

As of January 25th, 2016, New York’s new spousal maintenance legislation signed into law on September 25th, 2015 is now in effect. The law brings changes to the way that temporary and post-divorce maintenance awards are calculated during divorce. While previously up to $543,000.00 of a person’s income would be considered in the maintenance guideline calculation, this legislation drops this cap to $175,000.00. This cap will change over time to accommodate for changes in the consumer price index.

Judges may consider income over this cap according to certain criteria found within the statute, and all family expenses incurred while a divorce is still ongoing must be considered by the courts. Enhanced earning capacity will no longer be considered a marital asset that is subject to marital distribution. While a spouse’s contributions towards the other spouse’s enhanced earning capacity may still play a part in the final equitable distribution determination, it will not be treated specifically as an asset anymore.

In addition, the new law provides guidelines for the length of post-divorce maintenance orders based on the length of the marriage. The courts may choose whether or not to adhere to these suggested durations.

Suggested lengths are as follows:

  • For marriages lasting between 0 and 15 years: Maintenance will be payable for between 15%-30% of the length of the marriage.
  • For marriages lasting between 15 and 20 years: Maintenance will be payable for between 30%-40% of the length of the marriage
  • For marriages lasting longer than 20 years: Maintenance will be payable for between 35%-50% of the length of the marriage.

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