guide to alimony spousal maintenance calculation in new york

Guide to Alimony (Spousal Maintenance) Calculation in New York

When a couple decides to get divorced in New York, one of the crucial aspects they must consider is the possibility of spousal maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support. This monetary support is based on one spouse’s ability to pay and the other spouse’s need for financial assistance. The process of calculating maintenance in New York can be complex, but the state provides an online calculator to offer a rough estimate of the amount applicable to each case. In this article, we will guide you through the various calculations involved, helping you gain insight into what a court might consider when determining spousal maintenance.

When is spousal maintenance awarded in New York?

Spousal maintenance is awarded in New York based on various factors, including the recipient’s financial need and the payor’s ability to provide support. It may be granted in situations where one spouse sacrificed their career to raise a family or when a newly divorced spouse needs financial assistance to pursue education for employability.

Definition of the payor and the payee

The spouse making the alimony payments is referred to as the payor, while the one receiving the support is the payee. For long-term marriages, alimony payments typically continue until the payee remarries or passes away. In contrast, for shorter marriages, the payments may be made as a lump sum or for a specific duration.

Types of New York maintenance

New York courts recognize three types of spousal maintenance:

Spousal support

Spousal support is an informal form of alimony provided during a trial separation or before formal divorce proceedings begin. It aims to assist the lower-earning spouse with basic necessities during the separation period.

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Temporary maintenance

Temporary maintenance, also known as pendente lite, is alimony paid during the divorce proceedings. This occurs when one spouse was the primary breadwinner, and the other requires financial support to cover legal representation and essential expenses during the divorce process.

Post-divorce maintenance

Post-divorce maintenance is what most people think of when referring to alimony. These payments are made from one ex-spouse to the other, either temporarily or permanently, to support their financial needs.

Factors considered in awarding spousal maintenance

The court considers several factors before deciding whether to award spousal maintenance in New York. These may include the standard of living during the marriage, the age and financial resources of each spouse, and whether one spouse gave up their career for the family’s benefit. It is important to note that spousal maintenance is not guaranteed, as it depends on the specific circumstances of each marriage and divorce.

New York’s maintenance formulas

New York law employs two formulas to calculate spousal maintenance, one for couples with children and another for couples without children.

Formula for couples with children

The formula for New York couples with minor children is based on their income, which includes W2 income, business income, and self-employment income. Some taxes are deductible, while others are not. The state caps the amount under consideration at $203,000. However, the court may still consider income above this threshold at its discretion. Hence, individuals with higher incomes may be required to pay more alimony than the base calculation suggests.

Additional factors, such as the standard of living during the marriage and the age and financial resources of each spouse, are also considered.

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Formula for couples without children

Couples without minor children follow a similar calculation method, but with different percentages.

A fictional example of maintenance calculation

Example with children

Let’s consider a fictional scenario where one spouse earns $100,000, and the other earns $50,000. The calculations would be as follows:


Understanding spousal maintenance in New York is crucial for anyone going through a divorce. The process of calculating alimony can be complex, but it plays a significant role in ensuring financial stability for the recipient. By considering various factors and utilizing the state’s maintenance formulas, courts strive to achieve fair and reasonable outcomes in each case.

FAQs about spousal maintenance in New York

1. Does the New York formula have an income limit?

Yes, the maximum amount considered for the payor’s alimony payments is a salary of $203,000. However, this amount may be subject to change in the future.

2. Can an order for maintenance be challenged?

Yes, individuals may challenge an alimony order if they believe it was based on an error of law or if there has been a substantial change in their financial situation since the order was granted.

3. How long does alimony last in New York?

Alimony can be temporary or permanent, depending on the length of the marriage. New York provides guidelines suggesting the duration of alimony based on the marriage’s length, but judges may exercise discretion in applying these guidelines.

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