Brian D. Perskin & Associates

New Spousal Maintenance Laws Coming into Effect This Month

After years of effort from lawmakers and advocates, the state of New York has finally passed comprehensive maintenance (or alimony) reform. On September 25, 2015, Governor Cuomo signed Bill A-7645-2015 into law, bringing what many believe is much-needed change to our family law policies regarding temporary and post-divorce maintenance.

Perhaps the most dramatic of these changes is that formulas will now be used to determine temporary and post-divorce maintenance. In the past, these key determinations were largely up to the court's discretion and outdated precedent. The following language is from the bill's sponsor memo and details how the two new formulas will work:

  • With child support where the maintenance payor is also the non‐custodial parent for child support purposes: (i) subtract 25% of the maintenance payee's income from 20% of the maintenance payor's income; (ii) multiply the sum of the maintenance payor's income and the maintenance payee's income by 40% and subtract the maintenance payee's income from the result; (iii) the lower of the two amounts will be the guideline amount of maintenance.
  • Without child support, or with child support but where the maintenance payor is the custodial parent for child support purposes: (i) subtract 20% of the maintenance payee's income from 30% of the maintenance payor's income; (ii) multiply the sum of the maintenance payor's income and the maintenance payee's income by 40% and subtract the maintenance payee's income from the result; (iii) the lower of the two amounts will be the guideline amount of maintenance.

Additionally, numerous other key changes are provided by Bill A-7645-2015:

  • A $175,000 income cap will be set on all temporary and post-divorce maintenance calculations. This is down from the current $543,000 cap.
  • Maintenance calculations will now be made before child support calculations, thus allowing child support decisions to consider burdens from the maintenance determinations.
  • The duration of post-divorce maintenance will now be decided using a new advisory schedule:
    • Zero to 15 years of marriage: maintenance should last between 15 and 30 percent of the marriage's duration.
    • 16 to 20 years of marriage: maintenance should last between 30 and 40 percent of the marriage's duration.
    • 20 years of marriage or more: maintenance should last between 35 and 40 percent of the marriage's duration.
  • Considerations of "enhanced earning capacity" will end. For years, counsel was permitted to work with experts to determine the lifelong value of a professional degree that was earned over the course of a marriage. These calculations will no longer be used in helping to determine spousal maintenance.

These are just the key changes Bill A-7645-2015 will bring to New York divorce proceedings—a complete list is available in the sponsor's memo. All temporary maintenance provisions will go into effect October 25, 2015. The post-divorce maintenance provisions will go into effect January 23, 2016.

For more information on this alimony reform and how it can affect your current or upcoming divorce, please contact us at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. today. Our dedicated New York divorce lawyers are vigilant of legislative changes such as these and always ensure that we provide informed, incisive, and effective counsel to those clients who need their interests protected during this difficult time.

Contact us at 855.544.6175 or use our initial consultation form today.