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Spousal Maintenance in 2016

Spousal Maintenance in 2016

Spousal Maintenance in 2016 By Daniel Burns{2:30 minutes to read} New York State has passed new legislation that uses a formula based on the income of each spouse to determine the amount of spousal maintenance. The new statute also creates an “advisory schedule,” which is based on the length of the marriage, for determining the duration. (For a more lengthy explanation of the new statute, go to the Law Summary entitled “Maintenance” on my website.)

This statute replaces the old “needs-based” method that required a court to consider 20 factors when determining the amount and duration of spousal support.

So, how is this new statute going to work in mediation?

I suspect that the conversation between the parties may now be similar to that which takes place when they determine the amount of child support. The law will be examined by each of them to see how well it works in their respective situation, and then they will come to an agreement that is viewed as “fair” by each of them.

This is almost certainly going to entail each party preparing an expense summary that will be reviewed and discussed during the mediation sessions.

It will most likely also require each party to prepare an income and expense summary, which will likely evoke a discussion of the other spouse’s income and expenses. I can hear the discussion now:

  • Can you increase your income by finding a better job or by completing your education?
  • Do you really need that much for entertainment or clothing?
  • Can you reduce the cost of cable TV or your internet service?
  • Are there other ways you could reduce expenses?

While all of these discussions were probably taking place in the past, I suspect that with the leverage of the new spousal maintenance statute, this will become an even more important part of the mediation process. After all, everyone only wants what is fair, correct?

I would be interested in hearing from anyone else who might have thoughts on how this new law is going to impact not only the way couples reach an agreement but how they will do that.

Daniel R. Burns

Attorney & Mediator
1187 Troy Schenectady Road
Latham, NY 12110
Phone: (518) 529-5200

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