Problems still exist in New York’s temporary maintenance law

It has been over a year since unilateral no-fault divorce was adopted in New York. No-fault divorce, which now exists in all states, permits one spouse to receive a divorce by swearing that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for six months or more.

Ever since the law’s passage, it has had critics and supporters. The law, which includes a small provision about temporary spousal support (also known as alimony and maintenance), is currently being analyzed by the state’s independent Law Revision Commissions:  According to a Wall Street Journal article by Sophia Hollander, there are “troubling aspects” of the strict formula for awarding temporary spousal support. A report is due in April.

Temporary maintenance is awarded when the income of the “less-monied” spouse is less than two thirds the income of the spouse with the higher income. The formula calls for maintenance to be the lesser of a) 30% of the payor’s income minus 20% of the non-payor’s income or b) 40% of the combined income minus the non-payor’s income. Income for calculation of temporary maintenance is to be capped at $500,000, and judges are free to adjust amounts when the income exceeds $500,000.

The law aimed to protect the low-income spouse, but ended up hurting the affluent spouse by shifting income unfairly. At times, it even transformed the richer spouse into the poorer one.

The movement is to make the law less binding on judges and more advisory; however, the fear is that it will lose its effect.

Westchester Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, the primary sponsor of the alimony law, said, “[The 2010 law is] better for women.<Read More>


What is Fair Alimony in the 21st Century?

What is fair alimony in the 21st century? Alimony was originally designed to protect a woman and family from falling into poverty after a divorce. It originated during a time when women were mainly at home caregivers  where many lacked proper educations allowing for sufficient employment. However, in recent times the majority of women work and nearly a third have college degrees.

Florida lawmakers are pushing to overhaul the state’s alimony law in a bid to better reflect today’s marriages and make the system less burdensome for the alimony payer. Florida joins a growing number of states that seek to rewrite alimony laws by curbing lifelong alimony and alleviate the financial stress that some payers — still mostly men — say they are forced to take on.

“It can strangle the person that is paying it,” said Alan Frisher, the founder of Florida Alimony Reform, an organization of 2,000 members, several of whom testified recently at legislative committee hearings. “Oftentimes, we can’t afford to pay that amount of alimony. It can provide a disincentive for the receiver to ever go back to work, to make more money or remarry. I don’t think anybody should have to be an indentured servant for the rest of their lives.”

The legislature in Massachusetts, which had some of the country’s most antiquated alimony laws, passed without opposition a measure to rewrite the laws and make them more equitable.

Commissions in other states have been set up to collect data and stories about the hardships of long-term alimony payments and presenting them to lawmakers to hopefully make the necessary changes to bring the alimony laws to the 21st Century and to take into account current household dynamics. … <Read More>


Alimony, a Vestige of the Bad Old Days?

Is alimony the last vestige of our paternalistic past?

It just might be.  For the last century, Men made more money and had many more choices when it came to work than women. When men left their wives, they left them in a state of probable poverty and lowered their standing in polite society.

With the increase in same sex marriage and the changing economic climate, can alimony be saved?

Probably not anytime soon, but with the playing field between men and women at least becoming more or less equal the possibility looms.… <Read More>