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Spousal Support or Maintenance Below the Guideline Amount

Can The New York Court Order Spousal Support or Maintenance Below the Guideline Amount?

3d Businessman flying Many things in the divorce process can be difficult for clients to understand. When a marriage comes to an end, both parties involved have a lot of different things to figure out, including how they're going to continue living comfortably without the support of another person. These days, a lot of people rely on two incomes to support a household. To ensure that the less-financially supported spouse can continue to live in a respectable fashion, some courts will order "spousal maintenance." Spousal maintenance simply refers to the support provided by a well-paid spouse to the less-paid partner.

As a New York divorce attorney, Mr. Shapiro frequently handles cases involving spousal maintenance or support. Important, one thing he often reminds his clients during these cases, is that the judge presiding over a New York divorce case will maintain the right to determine, if the parties are ultimately unable to agree upon, how much maintenance should be awarded to a payee spouse. Usually, the amount is calculated using a pre-set formula, as the guideline, which is contained in the Domestic Relations Law. There are two forms of spousal maintenance that a divorce lawyer like Darren Shapiro can assist his clients with. These are:

  • Pendente Lite Maintenance: Pendente Lite is a term taken from Latin which means while the case is pending. Pendente Lite maintenance is money that a spouse is given to assist them while the case is ongoing. Pendente lite is a temporary award intended to last specifically throughout the divorce proceeding. The justification for giving pendente lite maintenance is that the spouse controlling the finances could simply cut off financial support and leave the other spouse with no money to pay for expenses and fees while the case is ongoing.
  • Post-divorce spousal maintenance: The alternative form of spousal maintenance is "post-divorce" maintenance, which continues to provide financial assistance to a spouse for a pre-set number of years. In very rare circumstances, the support may continue indefinitely.
Calculating Spousal Maintenance in New York Law

Attorney Shapiro's experience as a divorce lawyer has given him ample opportunities to explore the nature of spousal maintenance and support in divorce and family law. He often aids not only to spouses claiming for support but also those who need help ensuring that they're not paying over their means to support their previous spouse. Both types of spousal maintenance available, as Mr. Shapiro reminds his clients, are calculated by the formula that is outlined in Domestic Relations Law section 236. The information laid out by domestic relations law considers income of each spouse and in order to deviate from the guidelines, many similar factors, including the amount a payor spouse earns, and the ability of the payee spouse to earn after divorce.

While most spousal support determinations will follow the guidelines outlined by domestic relations law, there are circumstances in which a judge might choose to deviate away from the standard maintenance amount and award either less or more support than usual. These circumstances happen in unique situations. For instance, in extreme situations, a judge might choose to offer less than the guideline amount of support, is when, after the maintenance payments are subtracted, the paying spouse will only be left with an income of around 135% or less than the poverty income guidelines.

In any court-ordered decision regarding spousal support or maintenance, the right representation can help to protect you and ensure that you're not receiving less money or paying more money than necessary. For instance, as Attorney Shapiro reminds his clients, a judge may choose to depart from the standard amount of spousal support when the legal team in a case can prove that the award would be inappropriate or unjust. In determining what is "just," the court can consider a huge list of factors, including anything that the court considers to be "just and proper."

The Circumstances Justifying Less Spousal Support

There are very few cases that Mr. Shapiro can use to explain the process of going below the standard guideline of support to his clients since at the time this page is being written the new maintenance guidelines were relatively new. However, cases do exist. For instance, in one situation, the court found that requiring a spouse to pay a total of $37,000 in pendente lite maintenance would be unjust because it meant that the individual would suffer financially himself. After the suggested support payments were removed from the payor's salary, the court determined that he would only be left with around $55,000 after taxes each year, which meant that he would have a serious lifestyle change to contend with. In the case, the court explained that the legislature required a shift in resources, but this particular shift was too significant. As such, pendente lite maintenance was reduced to an amount of $24,000 instead.

Ultimately, it's difficult for any party to prepare fully for the confusion and stress that can arise during a New York Divorce. However, the more you know about the rules and legislature surrounding your situation, the easier it will be for you to move on with your life as quickly and successfully as possible. Attorney Darren Shapiro has multiple years of experience as a divorce attorney, child custody attorney as well as a family lawyer. His experience with divorce cases has given Attorney Shapiro plenty of insight into handling a wide range of litigation, mediation, old fashioned negotiations and collaborative law cases.

To find out more about how Attorney Shapiro can assist with your situation, contact us today on (516) 333-6555 to arrange your free initial consultation of up to a half hour.

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