Articles Posted in Spousal Maintenance

Many New Yorkers who are unsure about the status of their marriage separate before ultimately making the decision to divorce. In such instances, it is not uncommon for them to enter into a separation agreement that defines their rights and obligations. Many separation agreements are eventually incorporated into divorce decrees as well. As discussed in a recent New York ruling, it is important for anyone considering entering into a separation agreement to understand that it is a legally binding document that, in most instances, will be enforced by the courts. If you want to learn more about your options with regard to ending your marriage, you should speak to a New York divorce lawyer promptly.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the parties divorced; the trial court incorporated by reference the parties’ separation agreement into their final judgment of divorce.  The wife subsequently filed a motion seeking a money judgment for unpaid maintenance arrears totaling $70,857. The husband filed a cross-motion to reform or vacate certain provisions of the separation agreement. The court denied both motions but granted the wife’s request for counsel fees. Both parties appealed.

Enforceability of Separation Agreements

On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision regarding the enforceability of the maintenance provisions in the separation agreement. The court found that Domestic Relations Law § 236B(3) governed the case since the parties sought resolution through agreement rather than judicial intervention. The separation agreement, which was in writing, subscribed by the parties, and acknowledged appropriately, was deemed valid and enforceable. The court rejected the husband’s argument that a different section of the Domestic Relations Law applied due to his lack of legal representation during the proceedings, as the parties had a valid separation agreement. Continue reading

Most divorces in New York are resolved through a settlement agreement.  Written Settlement Agreements set forth the terms of the parties’ division of property and support obligations. Generally, the courts will incorporate such settlement agreements into the final divorce decree and enforce them as they would other contracts. This means, as discussed in a recent New York ruling, that any modifications of such agreements must be in writing. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is smart to meet with a New York divorce attorney to assess your options.

Case Background

It is reported that the parties were married in 1998 and divorced in 2013, with a judgment that incorporated a separation agreement. The judgment stipulated maintenance payments of $400 per month while the wife resided in the marital residence or until its sale, and $900 per month afterward. The separation agreement allowed both parties to continue living in the marital residence and listed it for sale in 2013. The agreement specified that it could only be modified in writing with formal signatures. The husband moved out in March 2013, no maintenance was paid, and the residence was not sold.

Allegedly, in 2019, the wife moved to hold the husband in contempt and sought maintenance arrears, sale of the residence, return of personal property, and counsel fees. The husband presented a written modification agreement dated February 2013 stating that maintenance would end when the wife resided with another person. The husband argued this agreement modified the maintenance terms to allow postponement until their child’s graduation. The trial found the modification valid and enforceable, awarding counsel fees to the husband, and denied the wife’s claims. The wife appealed. Continue reading

In New York divorce actions, the lesser-earning party will often seek spousal or child support from their spouse. The courts typically rely on income-based guidelines when evaluating such requests. In cases in which the higher-earning spouse’s income exceeds the income cap, the courts have the discretion to include income above the cap when making their decision. In doing so, however, they must consider certain factors, as discussed in a recent New York ruling. If you are interested in learning more about the economic consequences of ending your marriage, you should speak with a New York divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural and Factual History

It is reported that in February 2018, the husband initiated an action for divorce. In August 2018, the court issued a temporary order that mandated the husband to cover all marriage-related expenses except for cell phone bills for the wife and their three children. The order also obliged him to pay $300 weekly as “unallocated support.” Subsequently, a parenting agreement was established in May 2019, leading to a financial hearing that month. Although the parties initially agreed on financial matters in July 2019, the wife never ratified this stipulation; as such, the financial hearing resumed in May 2021.

It is alleged that during this hearing, the parties settled on numerous issues, including maintenance and child support. The referee issued a memorandum decision post-hearing, which the court partially adopted and modified, culminating in the final judgment. The parties both appealed, asking the court to modify the awards for child support and maintenance. Continue reading

In many New York divorce actions, the courts will find it fitting to order one party to pay the other spousal or child support. Typically, support obligations are based, in part, on the income of both parties. In cases in which the courts believe a party is learning less than they are able to, however, the courts may impute income to them. In a recent New York divorce action, the court discussed when the imputation of income is appropriate. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is recommended that you meet with a New York divorce attorney to discuss how your decision may impact you financially.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the parties were married and subsequently divorced. The final judgment of dissolution addressed spousal maintenance, child support, custody arrangements, and property distribution. The husband appealed on several grounds, and the wife filed a cross appeal.

The cost of raising a child increases each year, and few people can afford it alone. As such, in cases in which parents split custody of a child, the courts will often order one parent to pay the other child support. If a parent refuses to pay child support, they can be held in contempt and may be incarcerated. As discussed in a recent New York ruling, however, the courts may be reluctant to both sentence a parent to serve time in prison and order them to pay child support arrears. If you have questions about your rights pertaining to child support, it is wise to confer with a New York child support attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the husband filed a motion requesting the court to find the wife in contempt of court for deliberately failing to comply with court orders to pay monthly child support and maintenance. The amount in arrears exceeded $48,000. The court ordered the wife to pay half of the arrears by a certain date in order to avoid further sanctions.

Allegedly, the wife failed to fully pay the purge amount. Consequently, the court issued an Order of Commitment, resulting in the wife’s imprisonment for a maximum term of three weeks. After the wife was released from custody, the court addressed the issue of whether the wife’s incarceration satisfied the purge amount. Continue reading

The following questions are examples of frequently asked questions during a consultation as it relates to contested divorces for parties with children. These are typically the topics that cover most contested divorce proceedings with children.

Divorces for people with children:

  1. How long do Contested Divorces usually take?

In many marriages, one spouse earns the majority of the couple’s income. As such, if a couple with dissimilar incomes decides to seek a divorce, the court may find it appropriate to grant the lesser-earning spouse maintenance. The courts do not merely rely on the parties’ assertions when considering whether to grant maintenance, and if so, in what amount, but will consider other factors as well. Recently, a New York court discussed maintenance awards in a matter in which the husband argued that the court abused its discretion in granting the wife nondurational maintenance. If you have questions regarding the financial impact of divorce, it is smart to speak to a New York divorce lawyer to address your concerns.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife married in 1985 and had four children. In November 2012, the wife instituted a divorce proceeding. When the trial was underway, the parties entered into a stipulation that resolved the issues of counsel and professional fees, separate property, and equitable distribution. The court subsequently issued a decision that imputed an annual income of $800,000 to the husband and approximately $62,000 to the wife.  It also entered a judgment of divorce that incorporated the stipulation of settlement agreed upon by the husband and the wife and granted the wife nondurational maintenance in the amount of $25,000 each month for five years, then $20,000 per month for an additional five years, and then $12,000 per month until either party died or the wife remarried. Both parties appealed.

Determination of Maintenance Awards

One of the issues on appeal was whether the trial court providently exercised its discretion in granting the wife nondurational maintenance. In assessing a party’s maintenance obligation, a court does not have to rely on the party’s own report of their finances but may impute income based on established future potential earnings or past income. It may also impute income to a person based on their future earning capacity, employment history, money received from friends and family, and educational background. Continue reading

Typically, people marry with the intent to stay together for the rest of their lives. Many marriages are short-lived, though, and last only a few months or years. Simply because a marriage does not endure for a long time does not mean that either spouse is immune from support obligations, however. This was demonstrated in a recent New York ruling in which the court rejected the assertion that a husband should no longer be required to pay pendente lite support for a marriage that lasted 16 months. If you wish to seek a divorce, it is smart to speak to a New York divorce lawyer to determine how your decision may impact you financially.

Procedural History of the Case

Allegedly, the husband and the wife married in February 2017. The couple had one child during their marriage, and the husband filed for divorce in August 2019. Resolution of the matter was delayed extensively, in part due to the husband’s failure to comply with court orders or engage in discovery and his failure to appear for hearings.

It is reported that in April 2021, the husband filed a motion asking the court to vacate a December 2020 order that required him to pay spousal maintenance, arguing that as the couple was only married for 16 months, he should not be compelled to pay pendente lite spousal maintenance 26 months after he filed for divorce. The court ultimately rejected the husband’s reasoning and denied his motion. Continue reading

It is not uncommon for one spouse to be the primary income earner while the other spouse is tasked with taking care of the home and raising the children. When couples with disparate incomes divorce, the courts will often grant temporary or permanent spousal maintenance to the party with a lesser income. Simply because a party does not agree with a court’s determination with regard to spousal support does not mean such a ruling should be overturned. This was illustrated in a recent opinion issued in a New York divorce case, in which the court explained its reasoning for denying a husband’s appeal of orders granting temporary and durational maintenance. If you intend to end your marriage, it is important to understand how the decision may impact you financially, and you should speak to a New York divorce lawyer to discuss your options.

The Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the parties married in 1994 and had three children. In 2018, the wife filed a divorce action, after which the husband left the marital home. The two children who were minors remained in the wife’s care. The wife then moved for numerous types of temporary relief, which resulted in the court issuing an order in which it directed the husband to pay temporary spousal maintenance and child support.

Reportedly, following a motion filed by the husband, the court issued a second order that altered the terms of the first and directed the husband to pay half of the costs of carrying the marital home. The parties entered into an agreement on certain issues, and the case proceeded to trial to resolve the remaining disputes. The court issued a judgment of divorce and granted the wife spousal maintenance for a period of nine years. The husband appealed. Continue reading

In many marriages, one spouse will earn substantially more than the other, causing a disparity in income. Thus, in many cases in which spouses do not earn similar wages, the courts will order the higher-earning spouse to pay spousal maintenance. Recently, a New York appellate court discussed the factors weighed in determining whether maintenance should be paid, in a case in which the plaintiff alleged the trial court awarded an inappropriate amount. If you and your spouse earn unequal wages and you are considering filing for divorce, it is wise to consult a knowledgeable New York family law attorney to discuss whether a court is likely to impose a spousal maintenance obligation.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife married in 1986. During the course of the marriage, the husband, who is a dentist, opened a dental practice. The wife worked at the practice as a hygienist for most of the marriage. The couple also formed an LLC to purchased commercial real estate. In March 2009, however, the wife filed a divorce lawsuit. A bench trial was ultimately held on the issues of spousal maintenance and the equitable distribution of marital property. At the conclusion, the court granted the wife spousal maintenance in the amount of $50.00 per week, from the date the action was instituted until March 2014, and divided the couple’s property.

Allegedly, the wife subsequently filed a motion to set aside the parts of the court’s decision pertaining to spousal support. The court denied the motion on the grounds that the majority of the arguments in the motion relied on evidence not introduced at trial. The wife then appealed.

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