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4 facts about spousal maintenance in New York

When your marriage looks like it's coming to an end, there are a variety of issues to consider--property division, child custody, support payments and more. These issues can be overwhelming and often come down to a common factor--money.

If you have made the decision to get a divorce, you may be wondering how you will make ends meet financially. Now that divorce is imminent, it's a good idea to understand how maintenance (or, spousal support) works in New York. Let's take a look at four facts about spousal support.

1. The length of the marriage determines eligibility and length

There is no threshold for determining spousal maintenance eligibility in New York. However, the shorter the marriage, the less time you will receive maintenance. The duration of payments depends on the length the marriage lasted, but health of the parties and their ability to be self-supporting are key factors. A general rule of thumb is that spousal maintenance is paid for a duration of 1/3 of the length of the marriage.

2. Spousal payments may start prior to divorce finalization

Your friends may inform you that support only begins upon divorce. However, in New York, this is not the case. Temporary spousal maintenance that either the couple agrees to or the court orders is known as pendente lite support. These payments bridge the gap between separation and finalization.

3. Calculation involves all sources of income

All forms and sources of income are relevant when calculating spousal maintenance support. This includes rental properties, and also, any assets that produce dividends and the like. There is an annual income cap that a court considers when awarding maintenance. 

4. Child support affects maintenance amount

If divorce proceedings involve child support, the calculation and payment of spousal maintenance will change. Child support takes priority over spousal maintenance. Currently, the courts use two different formulas for calculating spousal maintenance: one taking child support into account and one that does not.

Spousal maintenance payments, like any other facet of divorce, can cause spouses and former spouses to argue. However, if you can find common ground, the court will not have to intervene. It's important to take the rights steps from the outset--and to discuss your situation with a qualified family law and divorce attorney--in order to lay the groundwork for living your life happily ever after.

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