2024 How Long Does Alimony Last in New York?

When you are considering ending your marriage, or have begun the divorce process, there are a number of issues that may be on your mind. One of those issues could be spousal maintenance, or alimony. Whether you would be the paying or receiving spouse, understanding the pertinent rules and regulations can help you plan for the future. In some instances, support can be ordered while the divorce is still pending. Reaching out to a Rochester, NY, Spousal Support Attorney who has experience with cases similar to yours can provide you with valuable insight into how alimony is likely to work during and after your divorce.

Types of Spousal Maintenance

In its most basic form, spousal support is a payment made from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse over a predetermined amount of time. There are three types of spousal maintenance: one while the divorce is pending and the other two are post-divorce. 

  • Temporary
    Temporary, or pendente lite, spousal support is paid while the couple is still married and has started the divorce proceedings. This type of support will stop once the divorce has been finalized or the post-divorce order has been issued.
  • Durational A type of post-divorce support, durational spousal maintenance is issued for a set period of time after the divorce. Durational support is meant to provide the lower-earning spouse with an income while they build up the skills necessary to be self-sustaining.
  • Permanent
    Permanent, or non-durational, spousal maintenance does not have a set end period. In most instances, this type of support is awarded by the judge based on three factors: age, illness, and the inability to financially support themselves.

Duration of Spousal Support

The length of spousal support depends entirely on the specific circumstances of the marriage and each spouse once the divorce is final. One of the main determinants of spousal support duration is the type of maintenance that has been ordered.

Once a temporary spousal support order has been issued by the court, this order will continue until the divorce is final or a post-divorce support order has been issued. In instances where the divorce is uncontested, and the spouses are able to agree on the terms of the divorce, these payments will only be made for a short time. If the divorce is complicated and drawn out, temporary spousal support payments will last much longer.

After the divorce is final, the most common type of spousal maintenance is durational support. Although the judge has discretion concerning the amount and duration of payments, there is a general formula for their duration that is based on the length of the marriage:

  • In marriages lasting 0 to 15 years, payments should last 15% to 30% of the marriage’s length.
  • In marriages lasting 15 to 20 years, payments should last 30% to 40% of the marriage’s length.
  • In marriages lasting over 20 years, payments should last 35% to 50% of the marriage’s length.

The potential lengths of spousal support payments have a wide range. For example, a marriage that lasted 18 years has a potential alimony period of 5.4 years to 7.2 years. The judge will use each spouse’s circumstances to determine an appropriate duration.

If the judge chooses to grant permanent spousal maintenance, there are only a few conditions that will terminate the payments. These payments will continue until:

  • The recipient spouse remarries.
  • The recipient spouse lives with a partner.
  • Either party dies.
  • A significant decline occurs in the financial circumstances of the paying spouse.

It is also important to note that the couple can create their own spousal support agreement without requiring the judge to make a decision. If you and your spouse can agree on a fair and equitable payment schedule, you both may be more satisfied than if the judge created the order.


What Happens If a Party Refuses to Pay Alimony After It Has Been Ordered by the Court?

Failure to pay alimony can result in severe punishment for the party that was ordered to make the payments. The refusing party can be found in contempt of court, which can result in potential consequences of jail time and/or fines. Any alimony that is not paid is termed alimony arrears. These payments can be collected through small claims court, mediation, or wage garnishment.

Is There a Minimum Amount of Time That You Must Be Married to Receive Spousal Support in New York?

There is no minimum length of time that a couple must be married for one of the parties to qualify for spousal support. Regardless of the marriage’s length, the lower-earning spouse has the right to request alimony. Although the formula allows for spousal support in marriages that last a short period, the odds of receiving support are low in marriages that lasted less than a year. The longer the marriage, the more likely a spouse is to receive spousal support.

What Happens If I Can No Longer Make Spousal Support Payments Because I Lost My Job?

If you choose to stop making spousal maintenance payments when there is a court order in place, you may be held in contempt of court for violating the order. Fortunately, there is a route to have the spousal support order altered if your financial circumstances no longer allow you to make payments in full. You can petition for a modification to the order until you find another job.

What Are Some Factors That a Judge Will Consider When Creating a Spousal Maintenance Order?

In addition to income and the length of the marriage, there are a number of other factors that a judge may consider when calculating post-divorce spousal maintenance. They include:

  • The spouse’s age and health
  • Their present and future earning ability
  • The standard of living the parties had while married
  • Educational or training expenses

Determining Spousal Support in Your Divorce

Ultimately, calculating the expected amount and duration of spousal support that may result from your divorce is a complicated process. Trotto Law Firm, P.C., can help provide insight into how a judge may examine the evidence to determine a spousal support order for your divorce. Contact our office today for a consultation.

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