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NJ FamLaw
NJ FamLaw, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 517
Experience:  Admitted to NJ Bar
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Can a wife get alimony or spousal support in ny state if no

Customer Question

Can a wife get alimony or spousal support in ny state if no children, married for 7 years, have no morgage and is unable to work as she is a student
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
The simple answer is yes as alimony is not a function of whether there are children. Alimony is essentially a function of need for support and ability to pay. Her need, assuming she graduates and becomes able to earn more than she can earn now, goes down after graduating. Your ability to pay alimony becomes the next factor that gets assessed, along with the marital lifestyle you two enjoyed. Finally, the number of years you have been married goes to the term of alimony you may be obligated to pay her for.

Best regards,
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am at Columbia and have two more years to graduate for my batchelors science degree, then I will be going straight into a graduate program and then into a doctoral program, I will be in school for at least the next 6 - 8 years. I have already accrued almost $60,000.00 in student loans along with my scholarships. As a married couple we have enjoyed a fairly lavish lifestyle, I am not willing to concede on that or lose the residence we currently rent. As we were married in California am I entitled to half of his earnings? He left me three months ago.
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
It is not where you were married that matters, but where you divorce. NY is going to permit an alimony application. Do not expect, though, that it will be half his earnings. The court will likely impute some level of income to you (likely nominal income based on your student status) and then make a determination as to how much you need to be supported. A back of the envelope figure is .3 of the difference between his $400k and the nominal income they impute to you.

Best of luck
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
What percentage should I be expecting, what sort of figure in monthly alimony payments would be typical of a case like mine if we get divorced in NY state? If we get divorced in California what does that mean in terms of alimony payments, will that entitle me to half his earnings? We have been together for 10 years, married for 7 and a half, I don't want to be left out in the cold with some nominal alimony payments having to scrimp and save. My decision to go back to school was because after having done extensive research in the field, my intended specialization as a primatologist (primate behavior and cognition) with a large dose of conservation I want to make a difference to the scientific community by documenting and understanding these animals before our species systematically eradicates them. This field will never yield much money in terms of salary. HE LEFT ME, HE EARNS almost half a million dollars a year, why should I be penalized for my determination to make a difference. What does the back of envelope figure .3 actually translate into as a real figure in $, also what is a typical nominal income in $ in my case. How much should I expect in terms of alimony $, after I have given 10 years of my life to have my husband run off in some midlife f**king crisis. I want half, can I get it if I have evidentary support of his last infidelity?
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
Nominal income being aproximately $30k per year. If he makes $400k, the difference being $370k * .3 would be roughly $111k per year. I don't know of anywhere where you would get half of his income as alimony, regardless of the evidential support of infidelity. Most states just do not use fault as a consideration in determining how much alimony to award.

You should absolutely talk to a NY attorney who specializes in this practice area as you have a high alimony award on the line and you want to get as much for as long as you can (given that you won't have substantial earnings until you've done all of your phd work), You might be a classic rehabilitative + term alimony case where the initial amount will be higher for a couple years, then drop for another year or two and then be done. You might also be able to negotiate longer term alimony, which a real specialist could help you in doing.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
My apologies I am a little confused as to the figures. Does that translate as me receiving only 30k per annum? or is that in addition to the approx figure of .3 back of envelope figure $111k per annum, therefore would I be correct in thinking that I would recieve roughly $141k per annum? Regarding the classic rehabiliative + term alimony case potential, my preference would be for permenant spousal support, would that be a possibility in my case? If down the line I decide to get remarried would this legally stop alimony payments? Can you recommend any NY attorneys who specialize in this practice area as I have a high alimony award on the line and do want to get as much as I can for as long as I can due to the completion of my education to doctorate level taking a long time without any substantial earnings. Would a specialist be able to negoiate more than .3 in addition to nominal income for me in my case?
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
Alimony terminates upon remarriage. Sorry for the confusion I created by the numbers. The $30k imputed income is approximately what a court will say you can earn now (unless proofs show that it is higher). They could possibly award you an alimony figure of $111k per year for a period of years. A seven year marriage likely does not trigger a permanent alimony award as a court will consider it an interim length marriage.

JustAnswer is not a referral service, so I cannot provide you with a specific referral. However, I will tell you that someone who specializes in this area will send the message that you mean business and that you are going to get what you deserve. They will also send the message that this could be protracted and costly litigation or simple and straightforward if they agree to your terms. They should be able to go above the .3 figure based on the high income you are talking about here.

Hope this clarifies things.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Does this mean worst case scenario all I would see in terms of support would be 30k then? As you describe the length of marriage as being interim am I in any danger of not being awarded anything beyond this potentially? Or is this just the possibility of being awarded permenant alimony? Is there potential for being awarded permenant alimony in my case or is that unheard of?

What sort of attorney should I be looking for, what title is given to the specialization in divorce law you describe as being relevant to my case?
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
No. The $30k is what the court says you could earn annually now and the number they might be using in determining how much alimony to award you. ($400k - $30k = $370k times somewhere between .25 and .40 to get a ballpark alimony figure). There is the real possibility that alimony is awarded for a term of years and then stops. It is not unheard of for permanent alimony, but certainly would not be ordinary. The pre-marriage years, provided you were living together, could possibly be tacked on the length of the marriage and then it looks like a ten year marriage (which raises the possibility of permanent alimony more) with a husband who could have been divorce planning to avoid permanent alimony.

You should be looking for a partner at a law firm that limits its practice to substantial matrimonial matters. That would be relevant for you.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
First step if I find the right attorney would they also handle the financial terms of a legal seperation working with the possibility of this level of financial support for the duration of our legal seperation? Would you advise that so I am not left in the dust during the seperation period?

We lived together for two years prior to getting married, therefore the tack on living portion would provide a 9&1/2 -10 marriage. Would this be advisable in using this information if he is trying to avoid permenant alimony?

Divorce does indeed look like the real situation here for us, therefore in my case if I find the right attorney would it have to go to court if he does not agree to my terms or if he does is there the possibility we could settle amicably out of court?

Again I am confused about the figures can you please give me a worse case scenario total alimony $ figure per annum I am to expect/ be assured of and a best case scenario $ figure for my peace of mind and some indication of what to expect when this happens (pretty much immediately) so I can begin to plan my future a.s.a.p

A pratice that limits its practice to substantial matrimonial matters would be listed as such or is there another more colloquial term for such a firm?
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
The right attorney, under your circumstances, should handle the financial terms of your legal separation to ensure you are supported now and the status quo is maintained until the divorce goes through. Cases get resolved one of three ways: mediated settlement, negotiated settlement during litigation, or by trial. That is going to be entirely up to how rational both of you are.

Worst case / best case are difficult to do without all the facts and nuances but you should not be left out in the cold on this one, so do not worry too muc.

The more colloquil term would be family law or divorce attorney, but be careful because some attorneys who say they are "divorce attorneys" are solo practitioner's who handle regular, straight forward divorce (more average incom) and never tries cases. You need someone who will understand the nuances of family law and is not afraid of trying a case if necessary.

Best of luck
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm trying to assess figures. For worse case I have calculated 30k + .25 of 370k which would = 122.5k per annum or is it just the .25 that would be awarded i.e 92.5k per annum. I am unsure of whether you add the 30k to the .25 of the 370k or not. The same is true of best case which I have at 30k + .40 of 370k = 178k or just the .4 of the 370k = 148k per annum. Which formula is correct? adding the 30k or not?

Regarding your advice as to what particular type of attorney I need in both the legal seperation and divorce, should I be looking specifically for a trial lawyer/ partner in a family law/ divorce law firm? Given our exchange today do you advise I do this immediately? If so is there a directory of such practices, where would they be listed, would it mean going via the barr association or another route to find the right attorney for my specific case?
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
The award is not going to include what you could earn, so just the $92.5k up to $148k.

You should specifically be looking for either a divorce law firm (with at least 5-10 attorneys) or a partner of the divorce practice at a big firm (60-80+ attorneys at the firm). I would not start by going through the bar association as these people are likely not active members of the local bar association. You could search online and then look at their websites and read their bios They should have a lot of experience.

Based on our exchange today, I would do it as soon as possible as you are going to want to interview these attorneys for your case. If you are not comfortable with them, go to another firm.

Good luck
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
So due to the fact that there would be a subtraction of the possible 30k I could earn, would full time enrolement negate this to a degree? I am registered for 6 classes next semester at Columbia, along with working with Professor Terrace at the Primate cognition lab (no pay) would this be taken into consideration as it leaves no time for any potential earning possibilities?

Which nuances of our marriage would come under scrutiny and influence the decsion as to the level of alimony I am to be awarded. What could possibly damage my specific case in terms of financial compensation?

On average how much do attorneys at either a divorce law firm (5-10 attorneys) or a partner at a big firm (60 - 80 + attorneys at the firm) bill out at per hour?

Is the sliding scale of award ($92.5 -148k) assured in my specific case or could it be less or more?

Would the .25 - .4 figure be any different if we got divorced in California?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Please reply a.s.a.p ar per the last question
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Apologies for being so impatient but are you going to reply to my last question?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
???
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
Sorry, was having dinner. Full-time enrollment might negate it to a degree, but a court might still think you could earn something even while you were going to school.

You can expect the hourly range for these attorneys to be between $225 per hour and $475 per hour.

Nothing is assured in any case and if an attorney tells you they guarantee they can get something for you, get it in writing. The number can be higher or lower, for a shorter or longer period. But most cases tend to come down in this range. The range is going to be the same in either New York or California as they use the same factors for determining alimony.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Apologies as to getting impatient whilst you where having dinner. Which nuances, situations or cicumstances from our marriage could negatively impact how much I am awarded? i.e my conduct during the marriage.

So as you said nothing is assured and the figure I could be awarded could be lower than .25? or higher than .4. Would a lengthier term if not permenant spousal support payment equate to me receiving a lower % of his earnings? Would this increase or decrease depending on if he gets raises or not? He is the global CEO of his firm. I think he actually earns more in the region of 470k per annum. Therefore as I stated before I am not willing to concede my current lifestyle especially as I am racking up debt with student loans. Do I have a good case to get .4 or above?

I have proof of full time enrolement for next semester already, what other things would the court be looking for in terms of recogonizing my inability to work timewise. 6 classes and labtime at an ivy league school does not allow anytime for paid work at all. And would this be included and considered in a legal separation document before divorce proceedings i.e financial compensation. I was always lead to believe that any marriage without a prenuptial agreement would result in uncontested alimony for the spouse abandoned to be kept at the standard of living received during the marriage, to continue to live in the manner the marriage finacially provided for. Which as I stated before has been lavish and without any worries about money.
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
I cannot assess your case on a website like this as there are so many factors at play. I know you have many questions, and, unfortunately, a lot of them require knowing many details about your matter which cannot be learned from here. You need to get a consult with an attorney, as mentioned above. You will be able to go into great detail and a strategy for your matter can be formulated from that consultation and you will get a much better feel for what nuances in your matter will be important.

What you were always lead to believe, although partially true, is also partially false. Every divorce does not provide for permanent support and you may not be entitled to the lavish lifestyle on a permanent basis. A consult with an attorney is your first step, however, towards ensuring that you get as much as you deserve.

Best regards,
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I know you cannot give referrals but do you have any opinion of Berkman, Bottger & Rodd LLP (Manhattan), specifically the partner Walter F. Bottger who specializes in matrimonial law and is Columbia alumni
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Do you know anything about him? he seems experienced as a litigator, 15 years in matrimonial law, and has praticed in all trial and appellate courts in the NY metropolitan area
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Do you have any further advice for me at this juncture?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Sorry one last question. I'm doing rough calculations for best and worst case scenarios .25 - .40 of his current earnings. Would I start with his gross income or net income (after tax) as the starting figure before subtracting the 30k? Thank you for all your help.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Could you please answer my last question as per yesterday please
Expert:  NJ FamLaw replied 5 years ago.
Start with gross incomes.

Best regards

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