Getting divorced is not an easy or enjoyable process, and most people just want to put the event behind them and focus on the future. Unfortunately, that can be a challenge when there is something tying you to your ex.

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, could be that thing. If you are divorcing in New York, you should understand the factors that go into determining whether you will have to pay spousal maintenance.

Factors the courts will consider

If your soon-to-be ex petitions the courts for alimony, they will take several factors into account before awarding or denying the action. This includes whether there is a need for it, whether you would be able to pay it and what the standard of living was during your marriage.

If the courts decide to award maintenance, they will then determine the amount and duration of maintenance after examining numerous factors, including:

  • Each party’s income and probable future financial circumstances
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Both parties’ age and health status
  • Whether your ex would be able to eventually support herself or himself
  • The amount of training or education it would take for the receiving spouse to find employment
  • Loss of benefits or inheritance resulting from the divorce
  • Marital contributions, both financial and non-financial
  • Child custody arrangements
  • Property division 

These and other factors can help the courts determine how much support is warranted and the duration of payments. Generally speaking, divorces between older spouses who have been married for many years can result in lengthier, higher awards than divorces between younger spouses who have been married a few years.

Making a decision outside the courts

It is possible for divorcing spouses to make decisions on maintenance themselves. You can do this in a valid prenuptial agreement, for instance, or through mediation. In either situation, you can have more control over whether to pay alimony, how much you will pay and the duration of the payments. 

Getting answers for your specific situation

The information in this post serves as a general guide for the maintenance process in New York; every case is different. If you have specific questions or concerns regarding alimony, it would be wise to discuss the details of your situation with an attorney.