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How is alimony calculated?

Unlike child support, which is determined by a formula, determining whether a party is entitled to receive alimony, or spousal support, and the amount and the duration of payments was left to the discretion of the court.

In 2015, Governor Cuomo signed a bill providing comprehensive maintenance reform into law. The new law takes a more formulaic approach.

First, it lowers the "cap" on the payors income from $543,000 to $175,000. It also lays out separate formulas to determine spousal support for custodial and noncustodial parents. These formulas are as follows:

When the same person receives both child support and alimony

First, subtract 25 percent of the alimony recipient's income from 20 percent of the alimony payor's income. Then, add the payor and recipient's income, multiply that sum by 40 percent, and then subtract the alimony recipient's income. The lower of the two amounts will be the alimony payment.

When child support will not be paid, or when the alimony payor is the parent receiving child support

First, subtract 20 percent of the alimony recipient's income from 30 percent of the alimony payor's income. Then, add the payor and recipient's income together, multiply by 40 percent, and then subtract the recipient's income. The lower of the two amounts will be the alimony payment.

The court may deviate from the guidelines if they are inappropriate or unjust. However, guidelines and other factors and reasons for deviation must be put in writing.

The duration of alimony

The length of post-divorce maintenance/alimony has a new advisory schedule based on a percentage of a marriage's duration:

  • Zero to 15 years: Alimony will be awarded for between 15 and 30 percent of the length of the marriage
  • 16 to 20 years: Alimony will be awarded for between 30 and 40 percent of the length of the marriage
  • 20 years or more: Alimony will be awarded for between 35 and 40 percent of the length of the marriage

Any time New York law changes, the best resource for this new information is a skilled attorney who maintains a contemporary knowledge of family law.

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