As you may or may not know, there were significant changes to the domestic relations law (divorce law) and the family court act (family law) that took effect in the beginning of 2016 in New York. The most important components of those changes pertained to how courts provide temporary and final awards of maintenance (you may know it as alimony). In 2010, New York instituted a formula for temporary maintenance but stuck to a list of factors that they could use to change the what formula provides. Final awards of maintenance upon a divorce were still based on a list of factors. Since 2016 a formula is binding on all temporary and final orders of maintenance unless the court specifically deviates based on certain factors. Some of those factors included but were not limited to, the age and health of the parties, the present or future earning capacity of the parties, including a history of limited participation in the workforce, the reduced or lost earning capacity of the payee as a result of having forgone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities during the marriage; the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage, and even acts by one party against another that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a party’s earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment. Such acts include but are not limited to acts of domestic violence as provided in section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law.
The formula itself is a two part calculation. The first part depends on whether or not the party paying maintenance also has to pay child support as a non-custodial parent. If child support is to be paid, and the maintenance payor is not the custodial parent, part one is calculating 25% of payee’s income subtracted from 20% of payor’s income. If child support is not to be paid, or, if child support is to be paid, but the maintenance payor is the custodial parent then the calculation is 20% of payee’s income subtracted from 30% of payor’s income. Once that calculation is done then you do a second calculation which is multiplying the combined income of the parties by 40% and then deducting the person seeking maintenance’s income from that number. After both calculations are done, then whichever number is the lower number is the number the party seeking maintenance would receive. This formula only applies to the first $178,000.00 in income of the person you are seeking maintenance from. The factors apply on income above that number, though that number is susceptible to change every two years. As you can tell even with the formula the maintenance laws in New York are difficult and seeking the advice of a competent lawyer is crucial to ensure your rights are protected.