Updated: Sep 25
How Is Alimony Calculated?
Why Do We have Alimony?
Usually, during and after a divorce, one spouse has to make payments to the other less-monied spouse. This is called alimony (also known as maintenance or spousal support). Paying alimony limits unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing steady support to the less-monied spouse. This ensures the less-monied spouse has the ability to maintain their standard of living until they reach a time where they can support themselves.
The less-monied spouse is entitled to temporary and permanent maintenance up to the income cap ($184,000), unless the Court finds that the presumptive amount is unjust or inappropriate. In determining whether the presumptive amount is appropriate, the Court will consider:
a. the age and health of the parties; b. the present or future earning capacity of the parties, including a history of limited participation in the workforce; c. the need of one party to incur education or training expenses; d. the termination of a child support award during the pendency of the temporary maintenance award when the calculation of temporary maintenance was based upon child support being awarded and which resulted in a maintenance award lower than it would have been had child support not been awarded; e. the wasteful dissipation of marital property, including transfers or encumbrances made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration; f. the existence and duration of a pre-marital joint household or a pre-divorce separate household; g. acts by one party against another that have inhibited or continue to inhibit a party’s earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment. Such acts include but are not limited to acts of domestic violence as provided in section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law; h. the availability and cost of medical insurance for the parties; i. the care of children or stepchildren, disabled adult children or stepchildren, elderly parents or in-laws provided during the marriage that inhibits a party’s earning capacity; j. the tax consequences to each party; k. the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage; l. the reduced or lost earning capacity of the payee as a result of having forgone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities during the marriage; and m. any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper. The above is a direct quote from Domestic Relations Law § 236(B)(5)(h)(1)(a-m)
CAUTION: If you don’t ask for alimony during the divorce proceeding, you will not be allowed to request it after the case is over.
How Do We Compute Alimony Payments?
In calculating maintenance, the Court will first determine the parties’ adjusted gross income. The higher earning spouse is the payor; the less-monied spouse is the payee. Then, the Court will do the following computations: Calculation A = (20% of Payor’s income) – (25% of Payee’s income) Calculation B = 40% of both spouses combined income – Payee’s income Calculation C = (30% of Payor’s income) – (20% of Payee’s income) If child support will be paid and the payor is the non-custodial parent, then the temporary maintenance is the lessor of Calculations A and B. If child support will not be paid or the payor is the custodial parent, then the temporary maintenance is the lessor of Calculations B and C.
What Do You Do If Your Ex Is Refusing To Make Court-Ordered Alimony Payments?
Usually, your attorney will contact your Ex’s attorneys, inform them of the maintenance arrears and attempt to settlement the matter. If the matter is not settled out of court, then you must file an application (a\k\a motion or order to show cause) with the Court requesting the Court to hold your Ex in contempt of court orders. This means heading back to court to make sure all overdue payments are paid. You may make this application even if your case has concluded. If your Ex owes you a substantial amount of alimony, you may request a money judgement, which adds interest to the overdue payments. Through the money judgement, the court might also order your Ex to cover the legal fees you incur while making the application for contempt.