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Judges Have the Discretion to Exceed the Maintenance Cap in High Net Worth Divorces

In New York State, one spouse may be required to pay spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is usually a monthly payment made from one spouse to the other spouse for a specific duration of time. The duration of time is determined by the following formula:

• If the length of the marriage was between 0 and 15 years, then the duration of maintenance is 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage;

• If the length of the marriage was between 15 and 20 years, then the duration of maintenance is 30% to 40% of the length of the marriage; and

• If the length of the marriage was more than 20 years, the duration of maintenance is 35% to 50% of the length of the marriage.

The amount of spousal maintenance is also calculated based off of a formula found in the New York Domestic Relations Law section 236(B). This formula uses a person’s gross yearly income to calculate the monthly payment. For earners with a gross yearly income greater than $184,000, only $184,000 is plugged into the formula, which is known as the income cap. While most judges will not exceed the income cap, he or she does have the discretion to increase or decrease spousal maintenance based on a number of factors.

Judges will take into consideration the following factors when determining spousal maintenance, especially in divorces involving high-income earners:

• Age of spouse;
• Health;
• Current earnings;
• Future earnings;
• Current job;
• Need for a future job or education;
• Medical insurance;
• Current standard of living;
• Current contributions to the marriage;
• Sacrifices made to the marriage;
• Outside factors that impact earning potential; and
• Number of dependents, among others.

While ending a marriage is never easy, it may be necessary. The attorneys at the Fig Law, P.L.L.C. have experience representing spouses in all aspects of matrimonial law including complex disputes surrounding spousal maintenance and the equitable distribution of property. The complexities of divorce can be overwhelming and emotional. Please contact Heather A. Fig at office to learn more about the firm’s services and approach to disputes.

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