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Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed Bill A7645/S5678, legislation passed by the New York legislature last summer to revamp spousal maintenance in New York. The initiative to establish new guidelines came when New York adopted no-fault divorce in 2010 (the last state in the country to legalize no-fault divorce). The legislature put temporary guidelines in place then, but promised to extensively review the statute and make permanent changes.
• Moving forward, spousal maintenance or alimony will be calculated using a formula. Under prior guidelines, the court determined it on a discretionary basis
• For purposes of employing the formula, income will be capped at $175,000, down from $524,000 under the prior guidelines
• The guidelines allow for a reduction of spousal maintenance payments for payors who are already paying child support
• Under the new provisions, the courts have some discretion to deviate from the guidelines, based on what judges determine to be unjust or inappropriate
• Under the new law, the longer the marriage, the longer the support obligation
• The new guidelines don’t consider “enhanced earning capacity” to be a marital asset in equitable distribution determinations. Accordingly, the worth of an advanced degree is no longer factored in when dividing marital property.
• Under the new guidelines, spousal maintenance ends if the recipient dies or gets remarried.
The bill retains many of the factors that the court may use to determine whether spousal maintenance is warranted, including age and health of the parties, waste of assets, and standard of living during marriage.
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