An Alimony Lawyer Can Help You Get a Fair Spousal Maintenance Award
Alimony, or “maintenance,” is the ongoing payment that one spouse makes to another during or after divorce. It is designed to help the lower-earning spouse through the divorce period or through the remainder of their life. The Albany NY alimony lawyers at Colwell Law Group ensure that our clients’ best interests are preserved, whether that means receiving an adequate amount or coming to a reasonable agreement in terms of the payment they must provide.
Concerns over how one will pay the bills post separation/divorce are often the foremost on our client’s minds. Unfortunately, these concerns are usually some of the most complex and contested aspects of a divorce case. They are typically addressed through an order of spousal maintenance, commonly referred to as alimony. Spousal maintenance is an order providing for payments from one ex-spouse to the other either during or after a divorce.
At The Colwell Law Group, LLC, we have the experience and skill necessary get you a fair spousal maintenance award in terms of both amount and duration. Since 2005, our firm has been securing the best possible outcomes for our divorce clients. With decades of combined matrimonial and family law litigation experience, we know how to favorably resolve even the most complex spousal maintenance/alimony issues. Our focus on divorce and child custody matters allows us to keep abreast of the most recent case law trends and statutory changes. Contact our Capital Region divorce law firm today for the legal guidance you need.
How Do I Calculate Alimony Payments?
New York courts use two different formulas to calculate alimony awards or payments.
- 20% of the paying spouse’s annual net income
- Minus 25% of the recipient’s annual net income
- Split into 12 monthly payments
- 40% of the spouses’ combined income
- Minus the recipient’s annual net income
- Split into 12 monthly payments
While this formulas may sound relatively simple, there are added layers of complexity — and most divorcing spouses need to consult with an alimony lawyer to get it right.
You and Your Spouse May Disagree About Which Formula to Use
First, it’s not uncommon for couples to disagree about their choice of formula. If you’re going to have to pay alimony, you probably want the lowest amount possible — especially since it’s no longer tax deductible on your federal income taxes. If you’re planning on getting alimony, you’ll probably want the highest amount possible, especially if you’ve sacrificed work opportunities or education to support your spouse or need to care for your children. (Notably, under the new federal tax laws, alimony recipients must report these payments as income.)
This innate tension can lead to heated disagreements and disputes.
New York Puts a Cap on the Amount of Income the Court Can Consider
Second, New York law puts a cap on the amount of income that the judge can consider when applying the alimony formulas. In other words, the court will not consider a spouse’s income that exceeds this amount when applying the formulas. In 2018, that cap is $184,000.
If this doesn’t seem fair, don’t worry. When a spouse’s income is greater than the alimony income cap, the judge can modify the alimony award based on a series of factors. These factors include:
- Each spouse’s age and health
- Your present or future wage earning capacity
- Whether a spouse needs additional training or education to re-enter the workforce or improve their wage earning capacity
- Whether the recipient is also getting child support payments
- Whether a spouse tried to hide or improperly diminish the value of their marital property
- How child care and other responsibilities impact a spouse’s wage earning capacity
- If one spouse delayed their education or opportunities to support the marriage and family
- Whether each spouse has health insurance and how much it will cost
- The couple’s standard of living while married
The judge can also apply additional factors, depending on the circumstances surrounding your divorce and marriage.
An Albany NY Alimony Lawyer Can Help You Calculate Spousal Support and Resolve Disputes
When combined, all of these nuances make it difficult for the average person to properly calculate their alimony payments. While the State of New York publishes an alimony calculator, it doesn’t take into account those discretionary factors that can increase or decrease your payments. And a calculator can’t help you resolve an alimony dispute. That’s why you need an experienced Albany NY alimony lawyer guiding you through your calculations and negotiations.
Do Women Get More Than Men in an Alimony Settlement Agreement?
A very common misconception regarding alimony is that women earners do not have to pay men and that the husband always has to make alimony payments to his former wife. However, it is never that simple. More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that alimony had to be equal among the sexes. When it comes to alimony payments, the higher earning spouse owes the lower-earning spouse, regardless of sex. However, according to data from the 2010 Census, and reported by Time Magazine, only three percent of alimony recipients are men.
Why the big disparity among the sexes? Of the roughly 400,000 current alimony recipients in the U.S., the vast majority are women because of a few factors. First of all, slightly more jobs in the U.S. are filled by men than women.
According to Chron.com, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011, women made up 47 percent of the workforce. While that margin is only a six percent difference (men made up 53 percent of the workforce) that, in addition to the difference in wages, helps explain part of the men versus women alimony question. Women still only make 77 cents to the dollar that men make, which has been slow to change in the past five decades as sexism in our country refuses to relinquish its grasp. For social reasons, men may be more predisposed to turn down the opportunity of receiving alimony payments. Despite what the statistics show, we always advocate on behalf of our clients’ best interests, regardless of their sex.
How Many Types of Alimony Are There?
There are two types of alimony or maintenance payments in New York: temporary maintenance and post-divorce maintenance. Post-divorce maintenance may be durational or non-durational. Durational maintenance is paid for a set period of time, while non-durational maintenance is for the recipient’s lifetime.
Temporary maintenance is used to help the lower earning spouse “regain” their financial footing. It may be used for re-education, learning a new job skill, or paying for living expenses during the divorce period while they seek a new occupation.
Usually, durational or non-durational maintenance is awarded when the marriage has lasted a longer period of time, when the higher earner is wealthy, or when the lower-earning spouse is in the twilight years of their life or may have difficulty re-entering the workforce. Non-durational or durational alimony or maintenance is used to keep the lower-earning spouse in the lifestyle they grew accustomed to during the marriage, or keep them as close to that lifestyle as possible.
Keeping Up With Recent Changes in Spousal Maintenance and Spousal Support
The latest changes to the laws regarding spousal maintenance took effect in January 2016. It is important for your lawyer to be familiar with the recent statutory changes and how the Courts are applying the new spousal maintenance formulas.
Finally, you may also be entitled to temporary spousal maintenance while the divorce is pending. In certain situations, spousal support may also be available before a divorce is commenced. There are also very recent changes to the laws regarding these awards.
Consult With an Albany NY Alimony Lawyer
If you’re considering a divorce, let us put our considerable skill and experience to work for you. Speak to an experienced Albany NY alimony lawyer at The Colwell Law Group, LLC today.