Last year, New York passed legislation that made major changes to how the courts calculate and determine spousal maintenance (or alimony). For many, these changes are a welcome adjustment that finally recognizes the changing American family dynamics and makes alimony negotiations less predatory. For other couples, especially those dealing with major assets and significant income, the new laws can be extremely limiting and will not recognize the full scope of the martial property and lifestyle.
Changes in Maintenance Law
2015 brought two major changes to spousal maintenance. First was lowered cap on the amount of payor spouse income the court will recognize in its maintenance calculations. Previously, this was $543,000. Now, it's $175,000. That means no matter how much the higher-earning spouse makes on a yearly basis, $175,000 is the maximum amount the court will use to calculate maintenance for the dependent spouse.
Secondly, a new formula will be used to determine ongoing spousal maintenance. Now, the same formula that was used to determine temporary maintenance (while the divorce was still pending) will be used to determine post-divorce maintenance, as well. Specifically in cases where child support is also a consideration, this new formula will reduce the amount of money that is awarded to the dependent spouse.
"How Can I Guarantee Appropriate Maintenance?"
If you are about to enter a marriage or are currently in one and want to safeguard your possible, future claim to spousal maintenance without being inhibited by these new laws, there is one effective way to do so: by establishing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
While the new alimony laws are designed to address an array of different circumstances, they are ultimately guidelines that the court can stray from when it sees fit. One certain way to ensure for additional alimony consideration is to present the court with a thorough and well-structured prenuptial agreement. These documents still hold significant influence over divorce proceedings and, when they are properly drafted and presented, can avoid the new limiting alimony guidelines.
Are you interested in establishing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement? If so, Casella & Casella LLP is ready to hear from you. Our firm has more than 60 years of combined legal experience and our knowledgeable and compassionate Staten Island divorce lawyers are ready to help you and your spouse safeguard the future with comprehensive prenuptial agreement counsel and services.
Start exploring your options today. Call us at (718) 557-9137 today.