Maintenance

News Flash: New Law for divorces filed on or after October 12, 2010. A new formula to determine if and how much temporary spousal maintenance will be awarded until the judgment of divorce is granted. The State Court website has a calculator for this. The idiocy of this new law possibly permits someone earning $100,000.00 per year to obtain a sposual maintenance award if his or her spouse is earning $541,000.00 per year. This new law does not ensure the support of a spouse, it redistributes wealth on a temporary basis.

Maintenance: Only in few cases is it justified anymore. When illness prevents one from being self-supporting, or age prevents one from being able to retrain, or when the children are very small with extra needs. Otherwise, maintenance should at most be a form of unemployment insurance, to allow one to obtain necessary education or training, and then to get started in a job or career. As such it should be limited amounts for a limited duration.
There are both judges and lawyers in this state who have gone back to school while raising his or her child(ren) and still needing to earn a living, to become a lawyer. They did it, I did it, so can you.

Common questions:

1. What is maintenance?

To simplify, maintenance is the term now used for spousal support, formally known as alimony. I like to refer to it as unemployment benefits for separated and divorced spouses.

2. So, my husband makes more money than me, so he will be ordered to pay me maintenance, right?

Wrong. The fact that your husband makes more money than you is only factor considered by the court in deciding whether or not to order maintenance, how much and for how long. The Court looks at the standard of living of the marriage, the length of the marriage, health, ages, education, training, job experience and the income histories of the past three years of both spouses, to determine earning ability. The Court looks at how old the children are, and how long, if at all, a spouse was out of the work force. If you are earning $30,000 or more, I doubt you will receive maintenance on top of child support unless your husband is earning over $100,000.00 and your life style during the marriage warrants it. Maintenance is to help you until you become self-supporting.

3. Can I be ordered to pay my husband maintenance?

Yes, theoretically. If you were always the major breadwinner, and he is not self-supporting, is disabled, or does not earn close to an amount to live at the standard of living of the marriage, you might be ordered to pay him maintenance. The law is “supposed to be” gender neutral.

4. How does the court determine how long maintenance will be paid for?

Again, the Court looks at the standard of living of the marriage, the length of the marriage, health, ages, education, training, job experience and the income histories of the past three years of both spouses, to determine earning ability. In a marriage that lasted for 30 years, the spouse in need stayed home, has no education or job experience to speak of and is not in great health, lifetime maintenance can be expected. In a marriage that lasted 8 years, the spouse in need has a college degree and has been working earning $35,000.00 or greater, probably no maintenance at all. In a fifteen year marriage and the youngest child is 12, and the spouse in need has prior work experience and/or college degree, based on incomes of the parties, maybe as much as $1,000.00 per month for up to five years, maybe only $50.00 per week for three years. The concept is to fashion an award to allow the party in need to become self-supporting.

5. Can the maintenance payer tax deduct maintenance?

Yes, so long as it is not written as tax-free maintenance.

6. Does the receiver of maintenance have to pay income tax on it?

Yes, so long as it is not written as tax-free maintenance.

7. I owe a lot of money for past due maintenance, can I have it discharged in bankruptcy?

No, and legal fees incurred pertaining to the issue of maintenance is also non dischargeable in bankruptcy.