In New York State, there is currently a cap on income for maintenance purposes (otherwise known as alimony or spousal support) of $184,000 per year. That amount increases by $2,000 to $3,000 every year. In a really high-income case, one of the main issues at trial will be the standard of living that you became accustomed to. For that, one would really need to know the spending patterns of the parties during their time of marriage. Did they go out on really expensive vacations? Did they dine at very expensive restaurants? Did they have multiple houses?
The general rule is that the non-moneyed spouse shouldn’t have to dip into their assets to make ends meet or maintain their standard of living. Even if one gets one million or several million dollars’ worth of assets, they shouldn’t necessarily need to spend down those assets because they did not get enough, in terms of maintenance. The argument from the other spouse’s perspective is, of course, that they also shouldn’t have to spend down their assets just to be able to afford a high maintenance lifestyle. They should be able to afford to spend money on maintenance and also have enough money left over to pay for their own expenses.
There needs to be a balancing act. Is one party, for instance, taking on debt? Is one party having custody of kids and receiving child support, in addition to maintenance? All those factors need to be thrown into the mix and only then can an appropriate level of maintenance be derived. The fact that the statute sets a cap does not necessarily mean that you can’t agree to exceed the cap. Of course, that is subject to negotiation or the discretion of a Divorce Judge, if things can’t be settled.
What Factors Will Determine the Amount Of Spousal Support Or Alimony In a High Asset Divorce?
The factors that determine spousal support are the statutory factors. One would need to know the interplay of assets, child support, custody, and the standard of living. What types of restaurants would they go out to? What types of vacations would they take? What are considered “basic living expenses?” Most of that is evident from a review of the bank account statements and credit card statements. Those are the types of things that need to be looked at to determine what factors really come into play.
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