This week it was splashed across varying news outlets that Kelly Clarkson was ordered to pay her ex nearly $200,000 in alimony and child support. For anyone who’s a fan of messy drama and has been following along with this divorce, you know that her ex is also her former talent manager, and not so surprisingly makes a whole lot less than her. Clarkson, to her credit, currently earns nearly $1.6 million dollars per month from her music career, a judge on The Voice and from her daytime talk show. Her ex on the other hand, has reduced his client base to one client (Blake Shelton) and has decided he wants to be a rancher in Montana. Now, there is probably a whole lot more to the story than what is out in the news, but how might this type of scenario translate to a more basic everyday person’s divorce case in New York?
It is expected in New York that the parties maintain the status quo of the marriage and typically maintenance and child support are broken down by certain statutory formulas based on the parties’ respective incomes. So, what might the Court say if a party who previously earned a decent living in a long-term career just decided, “Hey, I think I want to be something completely different for reduced pay!” Absent a showing that that party had lost their job and had made significant efforts to find a same or similar job and/or same or similar compensation base, they would impute income to that party based on their ability to earn in their previously chosen field. So as enticing as ranching in Montana might sound, you should probably hold off until you’ve determined what your financial responsibilities will result from your divorce.