What qualifies as spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is another term for alimony or spousal support used in New York. It is a payment from one spouse to a former spouse ordered by the court.

According to the New York State Senate, the law has specific rules about what qualifies as spousal maintenance. There are three elements required for a payment to qualify.

Element one

The first element is the payment exchange must be between former spouses. It can be ordered during the divorce, so you may make payments to a current spouse. Payments to someone with whom you were never in a marriage are not spousal maintenance.

Element two

The payment from one spouse to another must be money. You cannot pay in property or other goods or services. Only money qualifies something as spousal maintenance.

Element three

The last element is that you must have a court order for the payments. If you do not have a court order, then legally you are not paying spousal maintenance. Voluntary payments do not qualify.

You must meet all three elements to have a spousal maintenance arrangement. You should also note that any order requiring payments tied to children that expire when a child turns 18 is not spousal maintenance. The court will classify them as child support.

Spousal support is available for both spouses. It is not just a benefit for women. Some people misunderstand this, but payment to only women is an outdated concept. Courts treat both parties equally and award support based on need and who is more financially well off, which could be either spouse.