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Decades Of Litigation Experience

Maintenance vs. Alimony – What’s the difference?

| Mar 2, 2021 | Family Law |

By Regina Competiello

The short answer? Nothing. In New York, the people that drafted New York’s “Maintenance” rules decided to deviate from the term “alimony,” commonly used in divorce actions, maybe to give a clearer meaning to the purpose of the award. Maintenance is intended to support the spouse that is financially
disadvantaged to allow that person to maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage. This, however, does not mean the payments are forever, nor does it mean the amount is unlimited. New York provides a strict calculation for both the amount of support to be paid (which is currently capped not to
exceed an income of $192,000 for the payor) as well as a formula to determine the length of time the same should be paid.

It is significant to note that these changes created a concept that maintenance is intended to be more rehabilitative, and not dependent. While there are a variety of factors the court can consider when deciding on a maintenance award, the ultimate goal is to all the financially disadvantaged spouse to get
back on their feet while receiving maintenance so they can support themselves. For example, if the spouse had previously abandoned a career to stay home and raise the parties’ children, they now have the ability to re-enter the job market, maybe take time to get new certifications or licenses, while receiving maintenance, so when the same terminates, they are self-supporting.

Whatever your situation, if you have questions about maintenance you should contact an attorney to discuss all possible outcomes.