Suffolk County Spousal Support Lawyer
Awarded by a New York court, spousal support is a legal order that requires one spouse to make periodic payments to the other spouse. Spousal support is typically awarded in family court. Some people believe that spousal support is synonymous with spousal maintenance. However, there is a difference between them. Spousal support payments are made during the marriage, while spousal maintenance payments are made following the divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that financial obligations are being met by the other spouse. Since the marriage still exists, both spouses have a legal responsibility to support each other.
Spousal support continues throughout the life of the marriage. Family court does not impose time restraints on spousal support. Therefore, it can last for many years. If an adjustment is needed, then one of the spouses can ask the court for an amendment to the spousal support award. However, only divorce will end spousal support.
During divorce proceedings, the court will decide whether to grant spousal maintenance. It is not only awarded to women, but to men, too. However, in New York courts, men do not particularly seek spousal maintenance since they, generally, tend to continuously earn more than women. Spousal maintenance can be awarded for a predetermined number of years; or, it can be awarded for life.
A lot of thought and consideration must be given by the courts in determining spousal maintenance awards. The following factors must be considered:
• The amount of time married (The higher the number of years, then the larger the maintenance award.)
• The spouses’ age and health (A larger maintenance award may be granted if one spouse is significantly older or has bad health.)
• The spouses’ income and ownership of property
• The spouses’ present and future earnings
• The spouses’ education and training levels
• The hinderance of one spouse’s job-seeking ability by the other spouse (for example: domestic violence)
• The children’s residency
• The maintenance-seeking spouse’s ability to support self
• The spouses’ living conditions prior to marriage
• The maintenance-seeking spouse’s lack of income due to remaining home to raise the children instead of being gainfully employed
• The children’s extra expenses (for example: schooling, day care or medical expenses)
• Providing care for disabled children, adult children, elderly parents or in-laws
• The maintenance-seeking spouse’s contributions to the marriage (for example: becoming a homemaker and not receiving a fixed income)
• Either spouse’s loss of assets due to a risky behavior
• Loss of health insurance benefits due to the divorce (The maintenance-seeking spouse will need to obtain insurance. Such a cost will be considered by the court when determining the maintenance award.)
• Possible tax consequences suffered by each spouse due to receiving or paying maintenance
• A spouse’s moving and hiding of assets (This action is frowned upon by the court. The court will still consider the assets when determining the maintenance award.)
• Any other factor that the court deems worthy of consideration (Since all divorces are different, unique circumstances are bound to appear. This factor gives the court the opportunity to address them in an attempt to remain fair.)