Understanding Your Financial Obligations to Your Former Spouse
Alimony is a common component of divorce settlements, allowing a lower-earning spouse to receive financial stipends to maintain a lifestyle similar to the one they grew accustomed to during their marriage. While some support is intended to be temporary, other spousal support agreements can be expected for years to come.
Typically, when alimony is awarded, payments are required for a predetermined amount of time depending on the length of the marriage:
- Marriages of up to 15 years can result in maintenance for 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage
- Marriages between 15 and 20 years can result in maintenance for 30% to 40% of the marriage
- Marriages beyond 20 years can result in maintenance for 35% to 50% of the marriage
When alimony is not bound by such time restrictions, it is considered nondurational and lasts indefinitely, with few factors capable of terminating payments.
Unless a divorce agreement outlines terms specifying that the receiving spouse may remarry while continuing to receive financial support, alimony is effectively terminated once a recipient gets remarried. If the obligor is unaware of the recipient’s new marriage and continues to provide alimony after they have remarried, they have just cause to seek reimbursement for those payments.
Cohabitation provides grounds for spousal support termination. It’s important to note that cohabitation denotes a relationship more serious than merely a partner who spends the night now and again. It happens when a romantic couple lives together and acts as if they were married. While difficult to prove, it can end the expectation of alimony payments.
If the obligor experiences a significant change in their finances or general ability to provide, they may file a motion with the court to modify their alimony agreement. The change in circumstance must be substantial to spark any adjustment. While the judge may not elect to cancel payments altogether, there is a chance the judge could reduce payments.
Without any of these occurrences, nondurational alimony could be expected until the death of either spouse.
If you have any further questions about spousal support or divorce in New York, contact Empire Law.