Maintenance, formerly known as alimony, is the payment of ongoing support from one party to another. The Court must first determine whether one party has a need for maintenance and the other party has the ability to pay. Currently, in households having total income of less than $500,000 the Court will apply a statutory formula to determine maintenance otherwise known as guideline maintenance. If the household income is in excess of $500,000, the guidelines do not apply and the amount and duration of maintenance are at the discretion of the court. Guideline maintenance is determined as follows:
33 1/3% of the payor’s net annual income minus 25% of the payee’s net annual income. The amount calculated as maintenance, however, when added to the net income of the payee, shall not result in the payee receiving an amount that is in excess of 40% of the combined net income of the parties. The guideline duration of maintenance is determined by the following formula is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage at the time the action was commenced by whichever of the following factors applies:
- less than 5 years (.20);
- 5 years or more but less than 6 years (.24);
- 6 years or more but less than 7 years (.28);
- 7 years or more but less than 8 years (.32);
- 8 years or more but less than 9 years (.36);
- 9 years or more but less than 10 years (.40);
- 10 years or more but less than 11 years (.44);
- 11 years or more but less than 12 years (.48);
- 12 years or more but less than 13 years (.52);
- 13 years or more but less than 14 years (.56);
- 14 years or more but less than 15 years (.60);
- 15 years or more but less than 16 years (.64);
- 16 years or more but less than 17 years (.68);
- 17 years or more but less than 18 years (.72);
- 18 years or more but less than 19 years (.76);
- 19 years or more but less than 20 years (.80).
- 20 or more years, the court, in its discretion, shall order maintenance for a period equal to the length of the marriage or for an indefinite term.
There are numerous reasons for the court to deviate from both the amount and duration and such deviations may result in either more or less maintenance paid in amount and duration. Maintenance awards after January 1, 2019 are not tax deductible by the payor not included in the taxable income of the payee. However, awards made prior to January 1, 2019 and modifications of such awards are deductible by the payor and includible in the income of the payee for income tax purposes. Thus, the guideline formula differs. The guideline formula for such modifications is as follows:
30% of the payor’s gross annual income minus 20% of the payee’s gross annual income. The amount calculated as maintenance, however, when added to the gross income of the payee, may not result in the payee having a total income that is in excess of 40% of the combined gross income of the parties. Maintenance is generally always modifiable upon a substantial change in circumstances.
Therefore, if there is a significant change in income or need, one should consider seeking a modification.