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A: If you’re a high-wage earner, and your spouse earns little or nothing, then you face the prospect of paying spousal maintenance (i.e., alimony). This Guide will discuss ways to limit the presumptive amount.
NY now has maintenance guidelines which result in the “presumptive” amount of maintenance – at least for temporary orders. A calculator & the factors considered may be found here: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/divorce/calculator.pdf. If you face the prospect of paying maintenance, one thing you should do is document to your spouse that you want him/her to find employment – or if they are working, to find a better job or go back to school. You should do everything in your power to encourage his/her job efforts. Send him/her job listings, for instance. If s/he isn’t working due to childcare, offer to have the child(ren) stay with a relative or find daycare. Does your spouse have employable skills or work history & is simply squandering them? Consider hiring a headhunter or employability expert to assist in the process.
There are numerous factors considered in arriving at the “proper” amount of maintenance. Was this a short-term marriage (less than 10 years)? Do you have alot of marital debt (indicative of living above your means during the marriage)? Does your spouse have a college or graduate degree which may create high earning potential? Was the degree earned during the marriage? Is your spouse likely to get a relatively high distribution of assets from the marriage? Does your spouse own any separate property (or have any separate assets)? Are you covering your spouse on your health insurance (and is there an additional amount you pay to cover him/her)? All of these are common factors considered in reducing or eliminating the potential for the Court to award maintenance. Discuss them all with your lawyer.