Divorce in New York (and elsewhere) is a complex process. That’s why you need the expert help of a divorce attorney in Suffolk County.

One of the most common sources of contention is alimony. What is it, and should either of the spouses give it? How much should the ex receive from the previous partner? Your lawyer can answer these questions, but being armed with at least the basics is also necessary.

1. Alimony Definition

What is alimony? A long time ago, it used to mean a payment or compensation provided by the male spouse to the female spouse during or after a divorce. Today, it is an amount provided by the higher-earning or working spouse to the other to prevent any economic bias or damage that can occur because of the divorce.

It, therefore, means that women can also pay alimony, although only a few males receive it. The conjecture is that men are more likely to be working or find a job easier than women.

Alimony is not child support, and it can also have other terms such as spousal support. In New York, the more common name for it is spousal maintenance.

2. The Amount of Alimony

Alimony doesn’t have a fixed amount. Usually, a judge considers a wide variety of factors. In New York, judges utilize a formula, in which case they set a cap on income. If the income of one or both of the spouses exceeds the cap, then they look into other factors. These can include age, health condition, job opportunities, and overall financial capacity.

Just because you ask for alimony doesn’t immediately mean you can dictate the amount. You can appeal to the court if you think the spousal support is not enough, but you don’t make the final decision. Note that the court might deny your request for alimony altogether. It is especially true when it feels you’re capable of earning your own money to support yourself. Again, child support is different.

Alimony also has many types. You can receive it even before the divorce is over. You can also get it as a lump sum or lifetime, which is less common. In the case of lifetime alimony, if the payor dies, then their estate takes care of financial support.

3. The Length of Alimony

Alimony building blocks

Unless the court agrees that you receive lifetime alimony (and even this can still change over time), the financial support is usually good only for a few years. Often, if it’s less than a decade, you might receive spousal maintenance for half of it. Alimony can also be a percentage of the payor’s net taxable income.

Overall, the purpose of alimony is to help you deal with the financial repercussions of the divorce. Once you can manage on your own, the other party can request its stoppage. The agreement can also end once you decide to remarry.

Alimony is both a privilege and a right, but it also comes with certain limits. To avoid further heartbreak, work with your attorney to help come up with the best amount for spousal maintenance—enough to help you start your new life.