For many couples, filing for divorce is one of the most stressful and devastating events in their lives. Couples file for divorce for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common questions is “how prepared are you for the process?” The answer to this question is not that simple, as there are many areas you must be prepared to handle when it comes to divorce.
But to avoid facing the divorce process unprepared, most couples file for divorce with the help of an experienced matrimonial attorney in NYC who understands the ins and outs of the process. It is important for parties to know that there are many issues that can be brought before the court in addition to the main divorce case.
The court’s order is determined by the issues brought before the court and the arguments that the parties have before the court with the help of a matrimonial attorney in NYC. If you are planning to file an application for an order to garnish your spouse’s wages (alimony), you will need to notify your lawyer so that it can be made a point to be argued in court or discussed during an ADR session.
Before you go before a judge, enter a disagreement, or face a support claim, it is essential that you have a good knowledge of what is known as “spousal support” and how it is used in divorce proceedings. Partnering with a matrimonial attorney in NYC will usually assist you in obtaining or defending a claim in divorce proceedings.
A well-informed attorney will provide you with all the information and evidence required to obtain or defend a spousal order or a support claim. Let’s dive deeper into how spousal support works in divorce proceedings.
What Is Spousal Support (Alimony) All About?
Spousal support is an agreement where one spouse has a legal duty to support the other spouse financially after the dissolution of the marriage. This obligation can come from a court order or a spousal support contract properly executed by the spouses. This type of support aims to reduce one spouse’s unfair financial burden because of the divorce.
Spousal support laws vary and largely depend on the state where the case is handled. However, there are several spousal support options that you need to understand, depending on the support’s purpose and how long the support lasts. Some of the most common spousal support options are:
1. Spousal support is temporary.
It is designed to help you financially during the divorce proceedings and will lead to a final divorce decree if there is no follow-up order or if no agreement is reached between you and your partner on the amount of support. The duration of the divorce proceedings determines the duration of this spousal support option.
2. Spousal support will help you move on with your life.
The spouse support option is a form of financial assistance that is often awarded to spouses who have been married for less than 5 years. This spousal assistance option is designed to help a spouse who is financially disadvantaged to support themselves for a short period of time.
It is intended to help a spouse adjust to a different life after a divorce. For example, a spouse may be eligible for this spousal support option if they need training or education or if they are otherwise engaged in activities that will enable them to become independent.
3. Spousal support with a broad term.
If this spousal support option is ordered or settled by the parties, it creates an obligation on one spouse to provide maintenance for the other for a set amount of time, usually based on the duration of the marriage.
4. Spousal support is meant to recover losses.
The ex-spouses usually order or negotiate this to make good on the less stable party’s financial contributions to the marriage or the sacrifices they made (e.g., giving up a career, profession, or education) due to the marriage. It could be a lump sum payment or a regular payment over a period based on various factors that you can better evaluate with the assistance of a matrimonial attorney in NYC.
5. Spousal support for a lifetime.
This option refers to the financial support paid to a spouse financially dependent in a former marriage. This support option is provided to spouses who are unlikely to become financially independent due to age, disability, or other reasons. It is also paid to spouses who have been married for an extended period and are unlikely to remarry.
The concept of spousal support for a lifetime means that one spouse of a former marriage is required to provide financial support to the surviving spouse throughout their life or until they remarry. Working with a matrimonial attorney in NYC will help you evaluate your requirements and determine what spousal support option you need and when you should apply for it.
Things That Affect Spousal Support
The family judge often has a great deal of discretion regarding spousal aid. So, it is essential to understand that when deciding whether to impose spousal aid, what kind of support to impose, and how much spousal aid to impose, the court will often consider several factors that will ultimately affect its decision. Here are some of those factors:
- The assets and liabilities of the parties;
- The amount of the marital property that will be distributed to each party;
- The parties standard of living during and after the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and health status of the party seeking spousal support;
- The contributions of each party to the marriage;
- The employment status of both parties;
- The responsibility of each party to their children from the ex-marriage;
- Any other factor the family judge may deem relevant.
To fully prove or discredit any of these points and ensure that the court exercises its power of review in your favour, you need to work closely with your matrimonial attorney in NYC.
If ex-spouses have been ordered by the court to pay spousal support or there is an agreement to pay spousal support but they have refused to pay, a legal action can be taken against them to get the spousal support money.
You can hire a lawyer to take legal action in the same court where you settled the dispute before by filing a ‘show cause’ action. The court will order your ex-spouse to pay the support or face various penalties and fines.
Taxes for spousal support
Spousal support awarded as part of a divorce settlement before January 1, 2019, is taxable. In other words, it is subject to tax for the recipient spouse.
After January 1, 2019, that was still the case at the state income tax level, but that is no longer true at the federal income tax level. The payor spouse pays all federal taxes on maintenance for the payee. That is a tax deduction for the payee spouse.
Change in spousal support order in New York
New York law allows you to change the amount of support you pay your spouse if you meet certain criteria. In most cases, you can only make changes if there has been a substantial change in your circumstances since the initial order was made. The court will consider things like income, health issues, or lifestyle changes when deciding whether to make a change.
To make a modification, you must show that your circumstances have changed significantly and that the change is ongoing. This means the change must be substantial enough to justify a modification, and it must be continuous or permanent. For instance, a spouse may lose their job but find a new one shortly after.
The court may not grant the modification in this case. The petitioning spouse must also provide evidence supporting their claim that the situation has changed. This evidence may include:
- Pay stubs;
- Tax returns;
- Medical records;
- Other documents that prove the change in circumstances.
The court will look at all the evidence and decide whether to change the spousal order. It is vital to note that changes are not guaranteed just like that, and each case will be judged on its own facts. If you want to change your spousal order, talk to a matrimonial attorney in NYC who can guide you through the process and protect your rights.
Are you going through a divorce? Do you require spousal support from your spouse? Or are you facing a spousal support claim and worried about how to fight it? Regardless of your concern, you can count on Gehi and Associates for all the legal help you need.
We have a team of experienced matrimonial attorneys in NYC who can help you with your spousal support needs. Our success stories testify to how our clients have solved their problems with our help. Get in touch with us today.
1. Are alimony and spousal support the same?
Yes, both terms mean the same thing. However, states did not allow alimony to be gender-neutral until the 1980s. Spousal support avoids gender bias and recognizes same-sex marriages and marriages where the highest-earning spouse is the wife.
2. Do I have to file for divorce to get spousal support in New York?
No. A New York family court petition for spousal support can be filed by either spouse, even if they haven’t yet filed for divorce.
3. What can I do if I can’t keep up with the spousal support order?
If you can’t keep up with the spousal support order because of a substantial change in your situation, you can apply to the court to change the spousal support order. The significant change in situation can be a loss of a job of a permanent nature, retirement, etc.
4. Will filing for bankruptcy free me from paying spousal support?
A bankruptcy action does not release you from your obligation to pay spousal support. It does not stop or delay spousal support claims. A spousal support claim can be filed, continued, or amended regardless of whether you have an active bankruptcy case.
5. What do I do if my ex-spouse disobeys a spousal support order?
You will want to act fast when your ex-spouse doesn’t pay spousal support. If you can’t talk them out of it, file a motion to have the spousal support order enforced by the court. You can also try wage garnishments and attach liens on your ex-spouse’s assets.