The role of spousal support once someone files for divorce

The word alimony often calls to mind ongoing payments made from one spouse to the other after a divorce. While people often assume that a husband will pay a wife alimony or spousal support, the laws on the topic are actually gender-neutral, which means either spouse could pay support depending on the circumstances in their family.

There are many situations in which the New York family courts may order spousal support payments as part of the final divorce order, but alimony doesn’t always start when divorce ends. For many couples, the obligation to pay support to a spouse begins when either spouse files for divorce.

How does temporary maintenance work?

When a spouse files for divorce, the courts typically authorize a temporary support and custody order that will guide the family’s behavior until they go to court. In situations where there is a substantial financial discrepancy between the two spouses, temporary spousal maintenance may also be part of the initial order.

Support issues can complicate a New York divorce. The courts will usually only order maintenance for someone who may otherwise lack the ability to support themselves and their children independently. The idea behind temporary maintenance is to supplement a dependent spouse’s finances while they go through job training and take steps toward financial stability and independence.

Temporary maintenance orders allow a spouse who has less earning potential or little current financial stability the opportunity to live independently during divorce proceedings. Permanent support is less common. It may be necessary in cases where one spouse has medical issues, or the couple is close to or past the age of retirement as a means of splitting a pension or other benefits.