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How long does spousal support last?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2024 | Spousal Support

Going through a divorce includes multiple challenges, especially in terms of finances. There are no longer two incomes covering living expenses, such as rent, mortgage or utilities. Or, if one person stays at home raising the children, they suddenly do not have any source of income.

Spousal support can help with the financial situation; however, there is no one-size-fits-all solution regarding the amount or duration of these payments.

The purpose of spousal support

Spousal support is a financial obligation imposed on one spouse to support the other during or after a divorce. Its purpose is to help the receiving spouse maintain a standard of living similar to that established during the marriage, especially if there is a significant disparity in income between the spouses. Women typically see a 50% drop in their standard of living, with 44% falling into poverty after their divorce.

The duration of spousal support in New York is primarily influenced by the length of the marriage. The state has adopted specific guidelines to calculate the potential duration of maintenance payments:

Marriages lasting 0 to 15 years: Spousal support payments should last for 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage.

Marriages lasting more than 15 years but less than 20 years: The duration of support increases to 30% to 40% of the marriage’s length.

Marriages lasting 20 years or more: Payments may be set for a period ranging from 35% to 50% of the length of the marriage.

It’s important to note that these guidelines serve as a starting point for courts. Other factors they consider when determining the amount and duration of spousal support include:

  • The age and health of both parties
  • Present or future earning capability
  • The need for further education or training 
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The reduced earning capacity of the payee resulting from having foregone education or career opportunities during the marriage

While New York State provides clear guidelines for calculating spousal support, the ultimate decision rests with the court. Anyone going through a divorce should work with someone to help ensure their economic future is secured.