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Divorce Litigation Guide Part 7: Spousal Maintenance, Economic Partnerships, and High Income in Divorce Litigation

Spousal Maintenance, Economic Partnerships, and High Income in Divorce LitigationAs a divorce attorney and family lawyer, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro believes it’s important to provide clients with as much information as possible. Divorce is a difficult legal process, and litigation can feel overwhelming to many people. However, having the right support and guidance along the way can make the process go a little more smoothly.

For those who want a quick and easy insight into how concepts like economic partnerships and high income earners affect spousal maintenance, this guide will address a number of key points. Here, you can learn a little more about the issues that arise in divorce litigation, and how lawyers like Mr. Darren M. Shapiro can assist in getting you the right outcomes for your case.

How Does High Income Impact Spousal Maintenance?

In the courts of New York, attorneys like Mr. Shapiro may request spousal maintenance on the behalf of a client or argue against the need for this payment on the behalf of the more monied spouse. Spousal maintenance is a common award in divorce, sometimes known as alimony, and it’s usually considered using specific formulas.

  • The courts may award spousal maintenance on both a short-term and long-term basis. It’s very rare for alimony to last for the lifetime of the receiving spouse, although this can happen in some cases. The New York court also considers the income of the more monied spouse and the less according to an “income cap”, in most situations. However, this cap may be ignored in certain circumstances, often in the case of a high-income divorce.
  • When the more monied person in that New York divorce regularly earns substantially more money the income cap that is provided by current law, judges could possible order additional maintenance on top of the amount suggested by the original formula. It is within the judge’s discretion to determine how much maintenance is reasonable or fair, as limited by the case law history.
  • As Mr. Shapiro reminds his clients, judges consider a number of factors when determining maintenance duration or amount. The statute for divorce law in New York also discusses the factors that judges must consider when ordering maintenance for a less-monied spouse. These include current and future earning potential for both parties, the health and age of the people involved, and any other factor deemed appropriate such as the home-making contributions of the spouse receiving the money.
Defining Spousal Contributions

The courts of New York divide assets from a marriage according to the concept of equitable distribution. This means that assets won’t necessarily split 50/50 between both parties. Instead, the court will consider things like what is “fair and just”. Only marital property is subject to separation in this manner, and separate properties will remain outside of the judge’s consideration.

  • The laws in New York dictate that any property obtained before the marriage that was kept separate specifically by the spouse is not marital property. Items gifted to or inherited by a single person in the marriage may also be considered separate.
  • When determining how to distribute assets, the courts consider factors like the length of a marriage, and the quality of life for both parties. Sometimes, the courts also consider the efforts and contributions of a spouse that aren’t financial in nature. Caring for children, looking after a home, or caring for elderly relatives are all valuable contributions.
  • The New York courts see marriage as an economic partnership, where both the financial and non-financial contributions of each party are essential. This means that it’s important to address things like providing emotional support, home making, and raising children when looking at the efforts made by each party.
  • The New York judges distribute assets in a case of equitable distribution with a full understanding of the concept of an economic partnership. The New York Domestic Relations law provides the criteria used by the judges in this regard.
How Both Parties Contribute to a Marriage

As Mr. Shapiro notes, most people do consider the financial situation of their partner when getting married. This is why people use attorneys like Mr. Shapiro for pre-nuptial agreements and similar contracts. Married couples are economic partners in the eyes of the law, and this must be considered when a divorce happens.

The court will look at a variety of elements when addressing how items should be distributed, and whether spousal maintenance should be offered when a divorce takes place. It’s not just the age and income of the parties that matters, but their earning potential, and the sacrifices they have made too. For instance, if a father gives up his job to become a stay-at-home dad, this will need to be a consideration.

It is within the courts discretion to consider anything they believe to be just and proper to their decisions when making choices about equitable distribution and spousal maintenance. While the guidelines of Section 236 are helpful for domestic relations law, there is room to deviate from this in the right circumstances.

If you would like to learn more about how different factors can affect things like spousal maintenance and equitable distribution in a case of divorce litigation, reach out to schedule an appointment. You can arrange for an initial consultation, up to the first thirty minutes are free, at a time that suits you and this office, either using the contact form on this website, or reaching out at (516) 333-6555.

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