Temporary Maintenance Update

A recent Appellate Court decision has delineated that the formula adopted by the new maintenance provisions are expected to cover all of the receiving spouse's basic living expenses, including housing costs, food, clothing and other usual expenses. (Khaira v. Khaira, decided on February 7, 2012). This case involved a wife who was seeking pendente lite maintenance from her soon-to-be ex-husband. Prior to the new maintenance provisions, it was common practice for the Court to award spousal support partially in direct payment to the spouse and partially in payments to third parties (i.e. for mortgage, utilities, medical, etc.).

What is Pendente Lite Maintenance?

“Pendente lite” maintenance, also called temporary maintenance, may be awarded to a spouse early in a divorce in order to provide the supported spouse with means to cover living expenses and maintain the marital standard of living while the court is making its decision on a final maintenance award. When determining an appropriate amount of temporary maintenance, the court takes the financial need of the supported spouse into consideration as well as each spouse’s assets and income.

Can a Maintenance Award be Modified?

It is possible to obtain a modification of a spousal maintenance award. The matter must be brought before the court and will not happen automatically. In order to be considered for a modification, either party must prove a “substantial change in circumstances,” which may include a job loss, a long-term illness, etc.

If the court approves the modification, the payments may be decreased. However, the court will also be on the lookout for those who are seeking to decrease their obligation by becoming intentionally unemployed or underemployed. If the court finds that this is the case, they may impute income and order the spouse to pay maintenance based on what they should or could be making.

If you need a New York City divorce lawyer, contact Eiges & Orgel, PLLC for a free case evaluation.