Alimony Reform . . . In the Big Apple

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Alimony on Monday, July 6, 2015.

Alimony reform is not just a Florida issue, it’s nation-wide. Recently, New York passed sweeping revisions to its alimony laws. Florida’s dueling alimony reform bills died this year. Is New York a sign of what’s to come?

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the New York Senate’s action came five years after the state adopted legislation on alimony that eventually drew criticism from a wide range of bar associations and matrimonial lawyers.

The law introduces a formula to determine temporary alimony that is paid out between the filing of a divorce and its completion. It was intended to protect low-income New Yorkers by providing predictability and consistency in awards.

It worked well for that group, but drew increasing opposition because it applied to people making more than $500,000 a year. Critics said it failed to account for complicated financial situations, and there were extreme cases of spouses being asked to pay more in child support, alimony and other expenses than their monthly incomes.

The new bill preserves the temporary maintenance guidelines and extends them to post-divorce alimony, but now the formula will apply to income up to $175,000, down from $543,000.

It also provides judges with suggested ranges for the length of alimony awards, including proposing 7 to 10 years for marriages lasting 20 years, and changes the formula if child support is involved.

Formerly, money was awarded for a percentage of the lifetime value of a license or professional degree earned during the marriage. The money was awarded regardless of whether the person ended up switching careers or suffered an injury that prevented him or her from working.

I’ve written extensively on Florida’s efforts to adopt new alimony laws. The most recent effort, after a year of wheeling-and-dealing by lawyers, lawmakers and others, died when the Senate refused to take up the House’s version of the bill.

The Wall Street Journal article is here.