What Influences an Alimony Award in New York?

Money with a wedding ringWhen it comes to alimony being awarded during a divorce, there are many factors that the judge will consider.  An experienced family law attorney can work discuss the relevant factors with you to help weigh the probabilities of the outcome, which still involves a lot of judicial discretion.  It cannot always be assumed that the man will always pay the woman spousal support.  It can vary depending on the couple’s situation.  The judge will look at each situation individually along with their financial documents to decide how much, if any, and for how long spousal support will be awarded.

One of the biggest factors judges consider when awarding alimony is the income of each spouse.  Not only do they consider what each spouse currently earns, but they will also consider the earning potential of each party.  This means that if one of the parties is not employed but has the ability to work, the judge will consider how much income the party is able to bring in should they find a job.

The length of marriage also plays a role in determining how long spousal support is awarded.  The longer the marriage, typically the longer the duration support may be ordered to be paid.  The health of each individual will also affect the awarded amount.  As a person reaches a certain age, they may require more medical care and not be able to earn as much income as before.

Tax ramifications can also be a factor when it comes to a judge awarded alimony to one of the parties.

In addition, a court will consider the amount of property each spouse will have after the Court’s order of property division (called “equitable distribution” in New York).  A significant property award may weigh against a large spousal support award.

Finally, there exists a formula that New York Courts must apply for temporary spousal support (while the divorce action is pending) but there is no formula for spousal support after the divorce is over.  There have been several bills offered in the state legislature over the years, but so far none has been enacted into law, mostly because there are significant concerns that once a formula is enacted, the Court will be unable to tailor support orders to each particular family’s needs and circumstances, which may result in an unjust outcome.  Judges, however, love formulas, because it makes their job much easier, so time will tell whether the law will be changed.