Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is a form of financial support that one spouse may be required to pay to the other spouse during and/or after a divorce. In New York, spousal maintenance is determined based on several factors, including the length of the marriage, the income and earning potential of each spouse, and the standard of living during the marriage.
However, what happens if one spouse is not earning as much as they are capable of earning? This is where the concept of “imputed income” comes into play.
Imputed income is income that is attributed to a party based on their ability to earn, rather than their actual income. In other words, if a court determines that a spouse is capable of earning more than they currently are, they may “impute” additional income to that spouse for the purposes of calculating spousal maintenance.
In New York, imputed income can be a significant factor in determining spousal maintenance. For example, if a court determines that a spouse is intentionally underemployed or unemployed in order to avoid paying spousal maintenance, the court may impute income to that spouse based on their earning capacity. This can result in higher spousal maintenance payments for the recipient spouse.
It’s important to note that imputed income is not automatic. A court will consider several factors when deciding whether to impute income to a spouse, including the spouse’s education, work experience, and the availability of jobs in their area. Additionally, a court will not impute income to a spouse who is unable to work due to a disability or other legitimate reason.
It’s worth noting that the New York courts also take into account the factors that might be responsible for a spouse’s reduced earning capacity or lack of employment. For example, if a spouse had been a stay-at-home parent for a significant period of time and is now seeking to re-enter the workforce, the court might consider the need for job training and other factors that might affect the spouse’s ability to earn.
In cases where imputed income is being considered, the spouse who is facing the possibility of additional payments must be given notice and an opportunity to present evidence to the court regarding their actual earning capacity. This can include evidence such as resumes, job applications, or other proof of job search efforts. The court will then consider the evidence presented and make a determination regarding whether to impute additional income.
It’s important to understand that the imputation of income is not a punitive measure, but rather a way to ensure that both parties are being treated fairly and equitably. The goal is to ensure that each spouse is contributing to the best of their ability and that neither spouse is being unfairly burdened by the financial consequences of the divorce.
As a law firm, we can provide valuable assistance to individuals who are facing issues related to spousal maintenance and imputed income in a divorce case in New York. Here are some ways that we can help:
- Legal advice: We can provide guidance and advice on the complex issues related to spousal maintenance and imputed income. We can help clients understand their legal rights and obligations and provide insight into the likely outcomes of their cases.
- Negotiation: In many cases, spousal maintenance and imputed income issues can be resolved through negotiation rather than litigation. We can help clients negotiate with their spouse or their spouse’s attorney to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
- Litigation: If negotiation is not possible or if a settlement cannot be reached, we can represent clients in court. We can present evidence and arguments on behalf of our clients and fight for their rights and interests.
- Support: Going through a divorce can be emotionally and financially challenging. We can provide support and guidance to clients throughout the process, helping them navigate the complexities of the legal system and achieve the best possible outcome for their situation.
If you are facing issues related to spousal maintenance and imputed income in a divorce case in New York, we can provide the legal expertise and support you need to protect your rights and interests.