New York Divorce: Rehabilitative Spousal Maintenance

Rincker Law Family/Matrimonial Law Leave a Comment

Fotolia_32579617_XSDurational (a/k/a rehabilitative) maintenance can be awarded to enable the lesser-monied spouse to get back on his or her feet and become self-sufficient following a divorce.  Most commonly, durational maintenance is usually provided to spouses that have been out of work for a while or spouses who are caring full-time for young children and need time and resources to become financially independent. 

Whether to award maintenance and the amount, if awarded, is at the discretion of the trial court and based on 11 factors contained in DRL § 236B(6)(d)(1-11).  The major factors must often considered are:

  • age of the recipient spouse,
  • health of the recipient spouse,
  • presence of children in the home,
  • duration of marriage,
  • sacrifice by person now seeking support in foregoing or delaying education,
  • training and/or career,
  • contribution to the career of the working spouse,
  • wasteful dissipation of marital assets, and
  • marital standard of living.

As the Court stated in Sperling v. Sperling, 165 A.D.2d 338 (2nd Dept. 1991), “[u]fortunately, we cannot realistically hope to ‘rehabilitate’” the wife “in the dictionary definition of the term, i.e., to “restore to a former capacity” (Webster’s Third International Dictionary, at 1914 [1965] ), since the lost opportunities of youth are not likely to be recaptured. The more realistic function of durational maintenance is to allow the recipient spouse “an opportunity to achieve [economic] independence” (O’Brien v. O’Brien, 66 N.Y.2d 576, 585, 498 N.Y.S.2d 743, 489 N.E.2d 712, quoting from Assembly Mem, 1980 N.Y.Legis.Ann., at 130).  This exemplifies the main goal of an award of durational maintenance. [emphasis added].

Always remember, though, no matter how much maintenance is awarded, in all cases maintenance ends upon remarriage of the recipient spouse, cohabitation of the recipient spouse with another man or woman (even if you are not legally married), or death of either party.

If you have specific questions about your divorce, please talk to a matrimonial lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.  



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