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How Is Alimony Calculated in New York?


Alimony is a payment from one divorced former spouse to the other that’s intended to provide the lower-earning spouse with sufficient income to meet their needs. Laws in every state provide for alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, but they use a variety of ways to set the amount of money to be paid. New York uses a formula as a guideline for setting alimony payments, but courts can exercise considerable discretion in ordering alimony. While this article will look at how alimony is calculated in New York, a financial advisor can also help you prepare a budget and financial plan that accounts for either paying or receiving alimony.

Alimony Essentials

When one partner in a divorce earns more than the other, courts sometimes order the better-off partner to pay the other partner. This money is known as alimony, spousal support or spousal maintenance. Some form of alimony is provided by law in every state. However, the states vary in how they set alimony amounts and whether alimony can be permanent or temporary.

When it comes to how alimony is calculated in New York, there may be three types of alimony:

  1. Spousal support can be paid by one spouse informally as part of a trial separation or before legal proceedings have begun.
  2. Temporary maintenance is paid during the divorce proceedings. It can allow the lower-earning spouse to pay for legal help as well as basic costs of living while the court case progresses.
  3. Post-divorce maintenance starts after the divorce is finalized and is intended to support the lower-earning spouse. It can be temporary, extending for a set number of years, or permanent.

A number of factors can go into setting New York alimony. They include:

  • Income, including future earning capacity
  • Child support
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Length of marriage
  • Health of partners
  • Age of partners
  • Availability and cost of health insurance
  • Tax consequences of alimony payments for each party

Alimony payments don’t usually continue forever. They may end after a number of years specified in the court order, if the party receiving alimony remarries, if the court determines the alimony recipient isn’t attempting to become self-sufficient, or for other reasons.

How Is Alimony Calculated in New York?

New York’s formula for calculating alimony relies on three factors.

New York’s formula for calculating alimony relies on three main factors, including:

  • The income of the parties
  • Whether or not child support is being paid
  • The length of the marriage

New York uses an income cap to determine whether additional support may be required beyond the sum indicated by the guidelines. This amount, set for 2024 at $228,000, adjusts annually according to inflation.

The length of the marriage helps determine how long alimony will be paid. For instance, alimony typically is set to last 15% to 30% of the length of a marriage up to 15 years, 30% to 40% of the length of a marriage lasting 15 to 20 years, and 35% to 50% of the length of a marriage lasting over 20 years.

Child support helps determine which of two formulas will be used to calculate a guideline amount. If child support is involved, the alimony amount is calculated as 20% of the payer’s income minus 25% of the recipient’s income. Assuming the payer has $100,000 in income and the recipient has $50,000, for example, the calculation would look like this:

Payer income$100,00020%$20,000
Recipient income$50,000          25%$12,500
Alimony guideline amount  $7,500

If child support is not being paid, or if the custodial parent is the one paying alimony, the formula calls for subtracting 20% of the recipient’s income from 30% of the payer’s income. Here’s how that would look using the same income figures:

Payer income$100,00030%$30,000
Recipient income$50,000          20%$10,000
Alimony guideline amount  $20,000

This guideline amount is not the final word. A limit also applies based on the combined incomes. The limit is calculated by subtracting the recipient’s income from 40% of the combined incomes. Using the same figures from the example, this is how that appears:

Payer income$100,000
Recipient income$50,000          
Combined incomes$150,000
40% of combined income$60,000
Recipient’s income$50,000

The calculated limit is the maximum alimony the recipient can receive. Since the limit amount in this example is larger than the alimony guideline in the example with child support, the recipient would get $7,500. In the example without child support, the limit amount is lower, so the recipient would get $10,000.

Alimony Calculation Considerations

New York has an online calculator to use when determining guideline alimony amounts. However, courts have considerable discretion when setting alimony, so these guidelines may not be exactly followed.

If a divorced partner feels the alimony is not the right amount, they can file an appeal. Also, if a payer or recipient has a change in financial circumstances such as an increase or decrease in income, they may be able to file a motion to modify the amount paid.

Bottom Line

Financial advisor discussing how to calculate alimony in New York with a client.

Paying or receiving alimony can affect your financial planning. And how alimony is calculated in New York depends on the state’s specific formula. The formula uses the parties’ incomes and salary, as well as whether or not child support is being paid to perform a calculation. Other factors may also figure in to this number, including the age and health of the partners, the length of the marriage, and tax consequences. Parties can appeal an improperly set alimony figure, and seek to modify it if their financial circumstances change.

Tips for Calculating Alimony

  • Talk to a financial advisor about the way paying or receiving alimony could impact your finances. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If you’re going through a divorce, it can also be helpful to seek the advice of a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA).
  • Find out how much your take-home pay will be after withholding for state and federal taxes using SmartAsset’s New York paycheck calculator if you’re trying to calculate how much alimony will be paid in New York.

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