Spousal Support (Alimony in NY) in Divorce

July 16, 2019 /

spousal support and Alimony in New York in Divorce

Spousal support, formally known as “alimony,” is not mandatory in most states, however it can be ordered by a judge under certain circumstances. Here is some information regarding Spousal Support (Alimony in NY) in Divorce.


At the time of possible divorce, if it appears like a spouse will face adversities without financial support, spousal support should be contemplated. The deciding factor for support is the need for the spouse to be able to support him or her self after the divorce. We recognize that sacrifices may need to be made financially post-divorce because the same household income will now support two households. 

You may wonder, how to avoid paying alimony? Here are factors that need to be considered where spousal support would probably not be ordered if:

  1. The marriage was of a short duration (less than two or three years)
  2. Both spouses are employed and self-sufficient


Types of Alimony

This does not mean the parties cannot agree on spousal support. Spousal support has a changeable time frame.  It can be (1) for an unlimited period, (2) subject to the death or remarriage of the recipient spouse, or (3) fixed to end on a specific date.

It should be noted that child support judgement and payments take priority over spousal support. There is no firm dollar figure for spousal support. The amount should be decided by both parties. A few common ways of calculating spousal support are to take up to 40% of the paying spouse's net income (post-child support), less 50% of the amount of the supported spouse's net income (if he or she is working).  However, our philosophy is that neither person can keep the same standard of living because the same household income has to support two households.

Furthermore, an alimony waiver can be carried out by the recipient spouse. However, the waiver should be in writing, agreed and signed by both spouses. 

In corresponding to child custody and visitation in NY where the judge decides which parent a child is going to live with, deciding on an alimony amount is much easier.  Each state has a law deciding what factors must be taking into consideration upon setting up support. 

Fundamentally, in setting up alimony and determining how long do you have to pay alimony in NY, courts look at:

  • whether an alimony award from one to the other would make it possible for each to go forward with a lifestyle somewhat close to what the couple had before they split—known in divorce law as “the standard of living established during the marriage.”
  •  how much money each person could reasonably earn every month
  • what the reasonable expenses are going to be for each of them

What Circumstances Will the Court Award Alimony or Spousal Support?

The responsibility of spouses to support each other does not necessarily terminate when they divorce. If the divorce will leave one spouse with very little to hardly any income and the other with enough to contribute to the low-income spouse's support, then the court will usually award alimony, at least temporarily. In the past, spousal maintenance was frequently awarded to homemaker wives, to be paid by working husbands though this is no longer the case. Now, either party may be awarded alimony if the other has the more substantial income.  Spousal support is often awarded in cases in which one spouse has put his or her career or education on hold to raise the couple’s children while the other climbed the career ladder. 

In the event of such cases, alimony will often be temporary, providing income for the period that will enable the recipient spouse to become self-supporting. The brief or rehabilitative, spousal support allows the spouse receiving it to additionally further his or her education, renew himself or herself in a former career, or finish child rearing responsibilities.  However, the support may become permanent if one spouse is incapable of getting a good-paying job.  The continuation and amount of support depend on numerous several factors, including:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • When applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire enough education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
  • All sources of income available to either party.
  • The financial resources of each party, the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
  • The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
  • Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.


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Determining Spousal Support (Alimony in NY) in New York

The courts in the State of New York in particular they will consider support based on standards of living than. Here are factors concerning the alimony laws in NY.

  • The earning abilities, years of education vocational skills if any, and employability
  • The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance.  
  • The time and expense necessary to acquire enough education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment that she requires, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
  • The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities.
  • The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income.
  • The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;

     The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award.

  • The nature, amount, and length of alimony paid during the divorce proceedings.


So, what a judge is supposed to do when deciding an alimony case is listen carefully to what the husband says the facts are, listen equally carefully to what the wife says that the facts are, consider the evidence produced by both parties, and then apply the facts as the judge truly believes them to be.  Having a qualified mediator may have a large influence over the judge’s decisions regarding how long you will pay alimony in NY.

In 2016, New York State created a formula for Spousal Support to be used as a guideline for how much to pay and how long to pay.  This helped the judges create a calculation that was similar to other divorce cases in New York State.  However, the tax law changes in December of 2018, created a tax issue for the paying spouse and a tax benefit to the receiving spouse.  The legislators in New York state have not fixed this issue.  When they initially created this guideline in 2016, they took into consideration the tax calculations for the paying and receiving spouse.  To this date, they have still not remedied this problem.

Determining Spousal Support (Alimony) In the State of Connecticut

In Connecticut, to award alimony or spousal support, the court must find one spouse has financial urgency or need, and the other can pay.  The Connecticut court considering a request for either temporary or permanent support will consider the following factors in order to render a decision, (the length of the marriage)

  • each spouse’s age, health, and station in life
  • each spouse’s occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, and employability
  • each spouse’s estate and needs
  • any award of child support benefiting either spouse
  • in the case of a custodial parent, whether it is desirable for the children that such parent secure employment.

To have an award of permanent alimony, the court will consider the cause for the divorce in the first place.  In other words, what this means is that certain types of spousal misconduct, such as infidelity, abandonment, or abuse, could affect the amount or duration of an alimony award. Also, there is no formula governing the calculation of alimony in Connecticut.

Determining Spousal Support (Alimony) in the State of New Jersey

In the state of New Jersey, there are five types of alimony that are recognized: temporary alimony, limited duration alimony, permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and reimbursement alimony.

  • Temporary alimony (alimony pendente lite)
  • Limited duration alimony
  • Permanent alimony
  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Reimbursement alimony

Financial Implications for the Receiving Spouse

It can seem like a spouse receiving alimony is made whole through the award of monetary support, but financial implications abound as it relates to taxes. Divorce itself is not taxable, but many of the transactions are.  This may include receipt of spousal support or alimony, regardless of the type or frequency of payment.

Financial Implications for the Paying Spouse

Alimony payments are no longer taxable to the recipient, and monetary support in the form of direct and third-party payments are no longer deductible to the payer.  It is important to include the tax liabilities of alimony payments in cash-flow projections for post-divorce financial planning so that the paying ex-spouse is fully prepared for the budget changes that may need to be made to ensure payment obligations are met.

Ending a marriage through divorce is not only an emotional challenge; the process presents obstacles in terms of cash-flow management and tax obligations as well. Without proper planning in place, payment or receipt of alimony can have a drastic financial impact on both parties in a divorce.

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Maybe Consider Mediation Before Getting to the Point of Divorce

Ending a marriage is never an easy decision.  It may not even be the right thing to do for you and your family.  The time, the cost and the emotional roller coaster maybe not be worth all the turmoil.  You want to make sure you are prepared and know the facts regarding information about Spousal Support (Alimony NY) in Divorce.  Mediation could be the answer. Take our quiz and see if we can be of some help for you and your family. 

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Dana and Don

Divorce Mediatiors and Marriage Experts


Divorce Mediators, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Divorce Coach, Divorce Preparation, Marriage Experts


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