Our illustrious Governor has signed the new maintenance law this past Friday. The new Temporary Maintenance provisions included in this law will go into effect on October 25, 2015. The balance of the law, including a new post-divorce maintenance formula, will go into effect on January 23, 2016. This will make New York matrimonial practice very interesting next year and for years to come.
The new law includes a definition of income for use in a maintenance analysis as well as a number of formulas for calculating temporary and post-divorce maintenance. The new law also addresses the interplay between maintenance and child support.
Unlike the well-established and relatively simple Child Support Standards Act, the new maintenance law is not just the application of a simple mathematical formula applied to the payor’s income. For example, it includes durational provisions for post-divorce maintenance, which are sure to cause controversy. These probably will be tested with litigation.
It will be a long time before we can begin to see clear patterns on how the new maintenance law is applied and the impact that it has on divorce litigation and settlements. The temporary maintenance formula adopted was in 2010. Five years later, we still see inconsistent and uneven application of this law. It has not been given the weight of authority that the Child Support Standards Act enjoys with judges. One can assume that given the broader scope of the new maintenance law, it will be years before its impact can be fully appreciated and its provisions ingrained in matrimonial practice.