Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Do assets count on whether a spouse is entitled to maintenance?

New York recently passed a statute codifying standards for calculating spousal maintenance (otherwise known as "alimony").

One factor in considering whether (and in what amount) to award maintenance is the "income and property of the respective parties."  While the statute uses the term "property," this will likely be construed broadly to encompass assets (e.g., money in the bank) and personal property (e.g., cars) - not just real property (e.g., houses).

It certainly would have been helpful had the Legislature been that specific & included the word "assets," but in my experience there is alot which the Legislature leaves to the Judiciary to decide.

As one example, say a wife is currently unemployed, but has a large amount of savings from a severance package she received from her last employer.  At the least, this would go a long way towards denying her temporary (or "interim") maintenance.  Depending on other factors (such as the financial resources of the Husband, the length of the marriage, the prospects of finding new employment, etc.), this also may serve to eliminate the need for - or sharply reduce the amount of - long-term maintenance.

In sum, if the spouse requesting maintenance has a large amount of assets, that is assuredly a factor the Court will consider.

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