How long does spousal support last after a New York divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Property Division

Financial discussions are often the most challenging element of divorce. Spouses may have a hard time agreeing on what is an equitable means of distributing their assets. There may also be questions about financial support. Perhaps one spouse stayed home to raise the children or the family, or maybe they took care of household matters while working part-time so that the other spouse could focus on their career. In such scenarios, a dependent or lower-earnings spouse may worry about suffering a massive reduction in their standard of living following a divorce.

Spouses can agree to support terms as part of a negotiated divorce and can set their own boundaries accordingly. The courts may also order spousal support in a litigated case, which involves regular payments from a higher-earning spouse to the lower-earnings spouse. Those payments can reduce the budget of the paying spouse but may also play a critical role in helping a dependent spouse rebuild.

How long might court-ordered spousal support last after a divorce?

Every family has different support needs

Occasionally, couples have remained married for so long and have developed such a serious economic discrepancy that permanent spousal support might be necessary. Many divorces lead to short-term or rehabilitative spousal support.

Oftentimes, the length of the marriage is a main consideration when determining how long support payments last. For shorter-term marriages that last less than 15 years, the courts might issue a support order that lasts between 15 and 30% of the duration of the marriage. If a marriage lasted between 15 and 20 years, a judge could order support that lasts for between 30 and 40% of the length of the marriage. If the marriage lasted more than 20 years, spousal support could be necessary for between 35 and 50% of the length of the marriage.

Support orders may sometimes end prematurely when certain situations arise. When the spouse receiving support improves their financial circumstances, the court might agree that they no longer require support and terminate the order early. Other times, the remarriage of the recipient spouse might lead to the early end of support payments, as they now have someone else to help them cover their cost-of-living expenses.

Understanding the rules that govern spousal support orders in New York may be beneficial for those speaking support and those who are expecting to potentially pay support to an ex. Those who understand state rules may be in a position to prepare for the challenges of a complex divorce more effectively.