Q: My now ex-wife took me to a NY FamCt 8 yrs. ago, for child support and support for her. She got both, but the Support Magistrate made her spprt for life. Yrs later, we were going through div proceedings in a NY Suprme Crt. During a conf, my wife told the judge that I have to spprt her for life. She was incredulous saying, “In my 30+ years of practicing law, I never heard of such a thing. If you show it to me in writing, I’ll faint.” The Fam Ct faxed over the Order, and the jdge told me to file an Order to S C, which I did, and it was addressd at our next conf. The judge then apologized being new to Matrimonial, she didn’t know, stating that since it originated in Fam Ct, I have to commence an action there. Ultimately, we entered into a stip,( if we didn’t agree within 5 minutes, the judge was going to decide the mttr; bad idea!) whereby I agreed to keep paying her spprt. It was incorporated into our Judgmt of Divorce. Now we’re divorced, and I’m struggling financially, and told that to the Support Magistrate. She’s sending me back to the same judge in Supreme Ct, because it’s a “higher court”. I feel like I’m stuck on a bridge between the US + Canada, and no one is letting me in.
A: It seems as though you would’ve benefited from competent counsel representing you. The answer: in Family Court, an award of spousal support may be entered “for life” – but only with the proviso that you remain married. That’s why they call it SPOUSAL support. Once you’re divorced, you’re no longer a “spouse” and thus any Family Court order to that effect would be void(able). That said, if you entered into a written agreement of maintenance in Supreme Court, then the only court which can modify an agreement like that is Supreme Court. Schedule a consult with a Westchester Divorce attorney for more info.