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Understanding Spousal Maintenance

In a divorce or separation action or in a family court support case, the less monied spouse may be entitled to an award of spousal maintenance or what used to be called “alimony,” although maintenance and alimony are very different concepts.

While your divorce or separation case is pending, a request can be made to the court for what is called temporary or pendente lite maintenance and such awards are used by the court to maintain the status quo while the case is pending. By statute, the court is required to use a formula in determining this temporary amount of support, but the court can look at 13 factors to determine whether the formula arrived at a result that is unjust or inappropriate. If it is determined that the result would not be fair, it can provide for an alternate amount and explain why it has not followed the formula.

In setting temporary maintenance, the court is to consider and allocate where appropriate, the responsibility of each spouse for the family’s expenses (housing, utilities and the like) during the pendency of the action.

At the end of your case, if you and your spouse have not arrived at a settlement, the court will ultimately determine an amount for permanent maintenance also pursuant to a statutory formula. Permanent does not necessarily mean forever. The court will determine not only how much maintenance is to be paid, but for how long. Some of the factors the Court relies upon are the ages of the parties, the health of the parties, the standard of living during the marriage and the contribution a spouse made to the career of the other. In the event the payor spouse’s income exceeds the cap, presently $184,000 per year, the Court will take into consideration 15 factors to determine whether maintenance should be based upon income over the cap. The governing statute also provides guidelines for the court to follow in determining the length of the permanent maintenance award and these guidelines are based upon the length of the marriage.

Work With A Team That Understands Your Needs

Much is at stake and the court’s decisions will impact the lives of both parties. We can assist you in understanding the law and in advocating for and obtaining the best result based upon your circumstances. Contact Judd & Moss, P.C., online or call us at 631-615-1758.