When is Spousal Maintenance Appropriate?

When you’re stuck in a marriage you no longer want to be in, it can be easy to feel trapped, especially if your spouse is the primary breadwinner for your family. Even when divorce seems like a reasonable choice from an emotional standpoint, the potential expenses (such as legal fees), on top of the loss of shared income and marital property, can be a massive deterrent against seeking separation from your partner.  This is exactly why the law of equitable distribution, child support and spousal maintenance were created.

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How New Tax Laws Will Affect Divorcing Couples in 2019

With 2018 ending in a few weeks, unhappily married couples who are thinking of splitting up should consider the tax consequences of waiting until after the new year. 

Under the new tax law enacted by Congress and the Trump administration, the rules regarding alimony will be different. Under the new law, the person who pays the alimony (otherwise known as maintenance in New York State) will no longer be able to write it off their taxes(deduct it from their income); meanwhile, those who receive alimony will no longer have to declare it as taxable income. If the paying spouse wishes to avoid this scenario, it is wise for to file for divorce before the end of the year. Those couples who already divorced will be grandfathered in — which means they will not be subjected to the new alimony law — unless they decide to modify their agreements next year. 

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Spousal Support Shift Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

President Donald Trump promised hefty tax changes prior to his inauguration. One substantial tax change under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act concerned the deductibility of spousal support.

Prior to the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), those receiving spousal support (alimony) were forced to claim the proceeds as taxable income, while those paying the alimony were allowed to deduct the payments from their taxes. However, under the new statute, it is reversed. Now, those that are receiving the alimony are able to deduct the alimony given by their former spouse from their taxes, while those paying the alimony will have to include it on their taxes. The change becomes effective after December 31, 2018.
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Judges Have the Discretion to Exceed the Maintenance Cap in High Net Worth Divorces

In New York State, one spouse may be required to pay spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is usually a monthly payment made from one spouse to the other spouse for a specific duration of time. The duration of time is determined by the following formula:

• If the length of the marriage was between 0 and 15 years, then the duration of maintenance is 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage;

• If the length of the marriage was between 15 and 20 years, then the duration of maintenance is 30% to 40% of the length of the marriage; and

• If the length of the marriage was more than 20 years, the duration of maintenance is 35% to 50% of the length of the marriage.
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