What is the Latest on Maintenance in Central New York?

In 2010, the New York State legislature did what it does well…it got half the job done, then “kicked the can down the road” to decide “later” what the law on maintenance should be in NY. Then….they never got back to us. If they do, some people will be happy they finally did, other will wish they had not.

Pre-2010, an informal formula served as a rule-of thumb for courts and practitioners.   For longer term marriages, usually maintenance would be 1/3 the disparity in income for 1/3 the length of the marriage. Shorter term marriages would trend toward ¼ in length and disparity.

In 2010 the statute was changed to create a maintenance calculator for the life of the divorce action. A promise was made to return in 2011 with a formula for maintenance after the divorce was finalized. No such law was ever passed. Abhorring a vacuum, courts have tended to use the formula for temporary maintenance as a guide for the long term amount, and the old formula for the length of term to fill the void. The calculator on the amount to be paid can be found at the NY Courts Website.

Proposals have surfaced, none having made it out of committee yet. Some provisions are scary, at least to payers. No automatic termination on remarriage for instance. Large caps on calculating disparity. And life-time maintenance for long-term couples. Add to that factors that contemplate the ex-spouse caring for the ex-mother-in-law as a factor in setting maintenance, and, well, maybe no news is good news on the legislative front.

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