New York Grants Financial Assistance During Divorce
New York State’s recent passage of the no-fault divorce law may be the main story in the headlines today, but New York also enacted two other provisions within the new law that may prove to be just as important. Both of the additional provisions indicate the state’s clear intent to level the economic playing field for both spouses in all divorces.
The first provision mandates spousal maintenance payments in court-ordered amounts during a divorce action. This measure was created to address any unfairness in interim maintenance awards that may unfairly impact a spouse while a divorce is pending. This creates a situation known as pendente lite where an interim maintenance award is mandated when one spouse’s income is equal to less than two-third’s of the other spouse’s income. In these cases, the court will award presumptive payments based on a formula that takes both spouse’s incomes into account up to amounts of $500,000.
The second additional provision contained within the bill attempts to make sure things are equal by ensuring that both spouses are adequately represented by legal counsel. This is accomplished by a requirement that the spouse who is better off financially will have to pay all or part of other spouse’s legal fees for representation during the divorce. The court is required to award legal fees during a divorce action to ensure both parties are adequately represented by counsel. In addition to awards to cover the legal fees during the divorce, the court can also order monetary awards to cover post-divorce cases concerning child support, visitation, and custody. Awards may also be granted to cover any court actions concerning spousal maintenance, distributive awards, and equitable distribution.
New York has moved to bring the state’s laws into alignment with the rest of the nation on no-fault divorce law today and, as with any new legislation, it will take time to see the impact of the new laws as they are put into practice in the coming years.