Spousal Support (Maintenance)

When a spouse sues for separation or divorce (whether contested or uncontested), a judge will distribute the property accumulated during the marriage in a fair and equitable manner. As part of the process, the judge will consider any request to make an order that one spouse support the other financially during and after the separation or divorce. The parties are free to come to their own determination of a maintenance award, but if they cannot agree, the court will make the decision.

Traditionally, this support was called alimony, and in one-income families, the order was routine. Today, the decision is more complicated, as more often than not, both spouses earn an income. But a judge will still determine whether to order payment by one spouse to the other. The judge can order payments to: one spouse till they die or remarry, over a set period of time, or in a lump sum.

Under New York’s Domestic Relations Law, whenever there is an issue of support or maintenance, each party is required to make a complete disclosure of their financial state, which includes a “sworn statement of net worth.” Net worth means the amount by which total assets, including income, exceeds total liabilities. Where parties are self-employed a forensic accountant may be necessary to audit the books and records of the businesses of the parties.

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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