Maintenance and Spousal Support

According to Section 412 of New York’s Family Court Act, “[a] married person is chargeable with the support of his or her spouse and, if possessed of sufficient means or able to earn such means, may be required to pay for his or her support a fair and reasonable sum, as the court may determine, having due regard to the circumstances of the respective parties.” The key to this provision is that this support obligation exists during the marriage.

An award of spousal support may take into account the costs of:

  • Necessary shelter (payment of rent / mortgage)
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Care / medical attention
  • Expense of education
  • Funeral expenses
  • Other proper and reasonable expenses

This obligation lasts for the lives of the parties so long as they remain married. It is also important to realize that an existing valid marriage is a prerequisite to obtaining spousal support and that New York generally does not recognize “common law marriages.”

Alimony, or the financial support obligation resulting from a divorce action, is now known as maintenance.

Spousal support can be sought in Family Court or in Supreme Court.