Spousal Maintenance, Alimony And Support
Alimony And Support Representation In Stamford, Greenwich, Westport And NYC
Maintenance, support and alimony are different terms (used interchangeably herein), yet they all refer to the same thing: the forms of payment made from one party to another after separation, during the divorce process, and after the divorce proceeding has been finalized. Overall, spousal support is intended to ensure there is economic parity between the parties, to the fullest extent possible. There is no simple answer to whether or not spousal support will be awarded by the court and in what amount. It is based largely on one party’s needs and the other party’s ability to pay.
Whether you are seeking alimony or looking to protect oneself from exposure thereto, Heidi E. Opinsky and her team of divorce lawyers, are uniquely poised to help. Ms. Opinsky and her dedicated team of legal professionals will take the time necessary to evaluate your case and advise you of all your options. Regardless of the complexity of your case, our goal is to ensure your legal, financial and other interests are protected at all costs, especially when moderate- to high-income and assets are at stake.
Connecticut And New York Alimony Law
In Connecticut and New York, there is no requirement for the award of alimony or maintenance for a spouse, as in the case of child support which is mandated. Alimony and maintenance is decided on a case-by-case basis. However, it often is awarded if there is a significant disparity between the income and earning capacities of the two parties. When considering whether to award alimony or maintenance, both Connecticut and New York courts examine the following criteria:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age and health of each of the spouses
- The quality of life enjoyed by the parties during the marriage
- Each spouse’s career, income, education and earning capacity
- The reasonable needs of the parties
- The distribution of property as part of the divorce proceeding
- The ability of the custodial parent or spouse to work, or to become rehabilitated to resume work, if applicable
- The causes of the divorce and marital fault — this is an important part of the analysis for a permanent alimony award
Unlike some jurisdictions, there is a substantial amount of flexibility in Connecticut and New York regarding the amount of alimony awarded, if any. New York courts have less flexibility in establishing alimony and maintenance payments, relying on a specific formula to guide the payment amounts. In New York, there exists a Temporary Maintenance Statute which the courts are compelled to apply in determining an appropriate level of spousal maintenance and support to be received by a spouse. The courts may deviate from this formula considering various factors on a case-by-case approach.
As part of the court’s discretion, it may award temporary alimony or maintenance on a limited basis during the pendency of an action, or it may provide for a permanent alimony and maintenance award which may terminate upon the death, remarriage, cohabitation events or a durational time limit. Amounts and durational terms for permanent alimony and maintenance awards may be based upon the health, age, and employment and earning capacity of a spouse. Such spousal support awards may be temporary during the case, known as pendente-lite maintenance and alimony awards, or they may be without durational limits such as death or remarriage, or lifetime support. Lifetime support may be awarded depending upon the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of a spouse and the sacrifices a spouse made in foregoing his or her own career to raise the family and enable the other spouse to advance in his or her careers to obtain a superior earning capacity.
Although most people think about alimony as paid out on a weekly or monthly basis, the court may award alimony in lump sum payments or a series of varying payouts. Alimony and maintenance payments can be tiered and can reduce or increase based upon certain events, such as reaching a certain age, retirement and earning capacities. Alimony and maintenance payments are usually tax deductible for the party making them and qualify as income for those receiving the money. There are options to elect these payments as nontaxable and nondeductible by agreement or court order, similar to property settlements and child support. Support awards can also be allocated or unallocated. Alimony and child support provides for the benefits of more cash to the recipient spouse while providing for tax deduction benefits to the payor-spouse.
It is possible to get an alimony award modified or terminated based on significantly changed circumstances, but if alimony was not awarded as part of the divorce, it may not be possible to go back to the court and seek it after the divorce has been finalized. In Connecticut, a court may allow for future alimony awards to either spouse in the future by retaining the jurisdiction of the court, leaving alimony open for consideration in the future.
While there are some legal differences in the support laws in New York and Connecticut, they both have two types of maintenance/alimony. These are:
- Temporary alimony and maintenance, also called pendente-lite maintenance or alimony; this is awarded during the pendency of the divorce case. It ceases upon the execution of the final maintenance order or divorce judgment.
- Permanent alimony and maintenance awards upon the conclusion of the case by a determination after trial or a court-approved agreement between the parties: This award ceases upon the death or remarriage of a spouse or certain contingencies such as retirement or duration.
- Post-divorce modification of maintenance/alimony: This may occur upon substantial changes in the financial condition of either spouse, as well as other factors such as unemployment, employment, other dependents and financial change in circumstances, health and age.
- There are other related support payments to maintain the marital residence, automobiles, health and life insurance, legal and expert fees and costs.
Connecticut and New York Spousal Support attorney Heidi E. Opinsky represents moderate to high net worth individuals who are going through the dissolution of marriage process, including those seeking maintenance and alimony payments. She works with clients during the divorce proceeding in order to ensure that all needs and requirements are satisfied, as well as afterwards if orders need to be enforced or modified.
Skilled Divorce And Family Law Attorney Practicing In Connecticut And New York
When one party in a divorce is at a significant economic disadvantage, it is critical to obtain support payments in order to ensure that person is able to enjoy a standard of living close to what he or she had before the divorce. When one party to a divorce is the primary wage-earner and has moderate to high income and significant assets, that party needs to protect his or her earnings and income from substantial support payments in order to preserve their income, estate and ability to provide for his or her own lifestyle and needs. Connecticut and New York divorce attorney Heidi E. Opinsky, is dedicated to obtaining the best results for her clients. Contact her today to schedule a confidential consultation. You can email her online or call her at 203-392-1719.