A Closer Look at New York’s New Maintenance Law – Part 1

New York State’s New Maintenance Law changes the way courts must address temporary and post-divorce maintenance.  This may be the most important development in New York domestic relations law in many years.  This series of articles will examine the new law.  It will start with the provisions for temporary maintenance.

The new provisions for temporary maintenance in the new maintenance law went into effect on October 26.  All actions commenced after this date will be subject to these new temporary maintenance provisions.  The post divorce maintenance provisions will not take effect until January 26, 2016.  So for the next few months we will have an odd group of cases that will be subject to the new temporary maintenance law but not the new post-divorce maintenance law.  This is bound to create confusion later on down the line.

In the meantime, the first requests for temporary maintenance under New York’s new maintenance law are being filed.  It will be a while longer before we will know how strictly the new guidelines for temporary maintenance are being applied by trial judges.

The new law provides some clarity in its definition of “income” by aligning this with the definition used in the calculation of child support.  The new law also seems to be written to apply to ordinary New Yorkers.  The ridiculously high income cap in the old temporary maintenance law has been replaced by a new $175,000 income cap.  It also allows litigants to opt out of the new temporary maintenance guidelines.

The new temporary maintenance guidelines have two different versions of the temporary maintenance formula.  The first is for cases where the parent with maintenance paying party will be paying child support too.  The other is for cases where there are no children or the maintenance payor will be receiving child support.

Both scenarios require the calculation of temporary maintenance using two different formulas.  The formula that yields the lower amount of temporary maintenance is the one that will be applied.

My next post will address the application of these guidelines. 

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