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Will you need spousal support in your divorce?

When couples decide to divorce, it is natural to feel anxiety about what this new life stage will bring. For unemployed spouses or those who are not the primary breadwinner, there is another fear: What will you do to financially maintain your day-to-day life?

That is where spousal support comes in. If you believe you may need spousal support in your divorce, here are a few things you can expect.

New York spousal support determination

In New York, a person is responsible for supporting their ex-spouse unless the couple previously enters into a support agreement. If you have children, spousal support is calculated first; that total is subtracted from your ex-spouse’s income and added to yours. Child support is calculated afterward.

The court considers several factors when determining spousal support, among which are:

  • You and your ex-spouse’s ages and health
  • You and your ex-spouse’s current or future income earning potential, which includes any history of limited time in the workforce
  • Your needs for undergoing training or education
  • Termination of child support
  • Your history of a premarital joint household
  • Any act by your ex-spouse that has inhibited your earning potential or employability (such as domestic violence)
  • You and your ex-spouse’s availability and cost of medical insurance
  • The cost of dependent care, such as children, stepchildren, disabled adult children or stepchildren, elderly parents or parents-in-law
  • You and your ex-spouse’s tax consequences
  • Your standard of living as established during the marriage

The impact of federal taxes

In the past, spousal support recipients paid income tax on any support payments. However, as of January 1, 2019, if you receive spousal support, you can write off those funds on your taxes.

On the surface, this seems positive: If you aren’t going to pay taxes on your spousal support, you can expect more disposable income. However, because your ex-spouse will have to pay income taxes on their payments, they may try to negotiate a lower support agreement.

They may also suggest alternative support options, which are not necessarily disadvantageous, but it may be worth having someone look over the agreement to ensure it works for you.

You have options for receiving spousal support in your divorce and the court looks deeper than the surface to determine exactly what support you will need. Conversations may become heated during the divorce process, but you have an opportunity for a viable and happy financial future.