After five years of effort, significant changes in calculating pre- and post-judgment spousal maintenance payments in New York will take effect in late October. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just signed a new maintenance statute (bill A7645/S5678) in response to a review of spousal maintenance that began in 2010, when New York became the last state in the nation to adopt a no-fault grounds for divorce.
The statute will become effective 120 days after being signed into law (Monday, January 25) for permanent maintenance provisions, and 30 days after becoming law (Monday, October 26) for temporary maintenance provisions. The new law makes amendments to the §236 of the existing Domestic Relations Law.
The new law will be responsible for implementing the following key changes:
- A new formula for determining alimony will be put into place for the first time. Previously, alimony determinations were made on a discretionary basis.
- The payer's income cap for maintenance is now $175,000, down from $543,000 previously. This number will be subject to adjustments according to fluctuations in the Consumer Price Index.
- The statute provides a different calculation that will result in significantly lower maintenance awards where the “monied” spouse is the non-custodial parent already making child support payments.
- The duration of maintenance is now based on the duration of the marriage, and will end upon the death or remarriage of the “non-monied” ex-spouse.
- Intangible assets like enhanced earning capacity are no longer considered marital assets in equitable distribution. This includes professional licenses and advanced academic degrees.
Setting a new, lower income cap will allow approximately 95 percent of all wage earners in New York to be included under these new guidelines. This new law will set a standard that judges can apply to the majority of divorce cases, but will still allow them the flexibility to deviate from the set formulas in cases with unique circumstances. This flexibility is crucial to being able to fairly accommodate the needs of people from all income levels.
According to Alton Abramowitz, a representative of the state bar’s family law section and a member of the bill’s advisory panel, remarked that this new law “is going to make the [maintenance judgment] process more streamlined, enable the courts to become more current on their caseloads, and remove some of the controversy.”
To read more about these changes, please click here.
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