Like other states, New York allows for what the law formally calls spousal maintenance but which is commonly referred to as alimony.

However, unlike many other states, New York actually has a formula that courts generally must use in order to calculate the proper amount of spousal maintenance a person should pay.

This formula can be somewhat complicated for someone who does not deal with alimony day in and day out to understand, so detailed questions about it should be directed to an experienced family law and divorce attorney.

However, as an overview, courts will calculate alimony based on the income of each of the parties, that is, in a similar way that courts in this state calculate child support. There are provisions in the law to make sure a person that makes a lot of income does not get treated unfairly or that an award of maintenance leaves a person without the means to support herself.

Courts have some leeway to adjust the amount called for under the formula to account for the individual circumstances of each couple. Although there are also guidelines in place that describe how long one’s obligation to pay alimony should last, courts can also make adjustments to these guidelines. Generally, how long he must pay alimony depends heavily on how he had been married prior to a separation.

Alimony will automatically stop should one spouse die or should the spouse receiving alimony remarry. Either party is also free to ask for a modification of alimony, but the person asking will have to show that the parties’ circumstances have changed significantly before a court will grant this sort of request.