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Who Gets What As Alimony? Understanding Divorce in New York State

Harding Law Firm - Monday, January 20, 2014

When it comes to getting a divorce in New York State, the state laws come to bear on the divorce action and at least one of those laws has to do with alimony. Alimony consists of payments made from one spouse to another during and after the divorce. The intent of alimony is to ensure that supported spouses continue to live in the same or a similar manner as they did while married. It is also a way to give a supported spouse the time to gain education or training in order to become self-sufficient.

In some states, alimony is known as spousal support but in New York, it’s called maintenance. A local divorce attorney will tell you that the terms will be used interchangeably.    

Two Types of Alimony During a Divorce in New York State
There are two types of alimony (or maintenance) available in New York state:

•    Temporary maintenance – this is paid while the divorce case is pending. It provides the supported spouse with immediate financial assistance taking into consideration the supported spouse’s reasonable needs and pre-divorce standard of living. This type of alimony ends when the final order of maintenance is signed.
•    Post-divorce maintenance – this is paid to the supported spouse after the divorce. It ends upon the death of either spouse, the remarriage of the supported spouse, or when the supported spouse is living with someone or appearing in public as the spouse of that person.

Alimony Guidelines for Divorce in New York State

Since October, 2010, the New York court system uses a standard formula based on spousal income to calculate temporary maintenance.  The formula for temporary maintenance is figured like this:

1.    Subtract 20% of the supported spouse’s income from 30% of the paying spouse’s income.
2.    Multiple the total incomes earned by both spouses by 40% and subtract the supported spouse’s income from that amount.

The court will determine the temporary maintenance based on the lower amount.

The guidelines for post-divorce maintenance are based on a number of factors, so there is no fixed formula. Some of the factors include (but are not limited to):

•    Income and property owned by each spouse
•    Length of the marriage
•    Age and health of both spouses
•    Present and future expected income
•    The ability of the supported spouse to be self-sufficient

•    Acts by one spouse that inhibit the other from achieving employment


Anytime one spouse is considering divorce or has been served with a divorce suit, it is important to get the best legal help you can. Scheduling a free divorce consultation is one way to see what a local divorce attorney in New York can do for you.

Contact The Harding Law Firm to learn more about how to get a divorce in New York State. You have the right to get what you deserve. Call us today at 518-384-3400 or fill in this contact form to schedule a free consultation today.