Time for Her to Fly-eee-aiyyyy....
May 8, 2015 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: This is in New York State. She's been with her husband for 25 years, married for 15 of those. She's done trying to make it work, and wants a divorce.

She has supported the husband for most of the relationship, maybe bringing in 75% overall of the household income throughout the relationship, perhaps more. He has never really held a full time job but would get occasional gigs working for events. She owns the house they live in (her name only, though insurance is in both their names) They had a small part time business together also in her name, that is closing down this month, and they may be able to sell the assets. The business itself has no debt, but she has substantial credit card debt from their mutual expenses, and her retirement account has been depleted from withdrawals from it to open the business. Her wages were garnished by the IRS back in 1995 for an outstanding debt he had from before the marraige that she had no knowledge of. They have no children together. There have been ongoing issues in the relationship for about the past ten years, getting more extreme in the past year or so,and she's done. They are both in their 50's if it matters.

She has met someone else, and wants to move on. She is very, very eager to move on as soon as possible, but is also nervous about the possibility of having to potentially support her husband after they split. She will seek the advice of a lawyer, but for now she is wondering if she puts her legal or financial standings in the divorce in jeopardy in any way by moving in with this new man, or making the relationship known in any way. Please, no advice on the wiseness of this move emotionally, we are dealing with that topic separately.

TL:DR : In New York State, is there spousal support in any or all divorces, and if so, does one of the partners cheating have any impact as to whether spousal support is ordered or the level that is one is ordered to pay? Again, a lawyers advice will be sought, but she is looking for some advance information. Personal experience and YAALBNHL all welcome. TIA.
posted by itmightbecheese to Law & Government (7 answers total)

This is all lawyer territory, moving in with her new man while exciting can wait a few days until she meets with someone. I know you're asking if it puts her in jeopardy and the truth is, it depends on many factors that can't be given via internet.

Wait a few days, lawyer up, and ask the questions.
posted by lpcxa0 at 12:56 PM on May 8, 2015 [7 favorites]

Yep, straight up lawyer questions. There's a lot of nuance in state laws at play in questions like this, so it's hard to generalize responses from a paragraph.

From my partner's CA experience, no, cheating didn't matter. Divorce isn't used as a punitive tool unless a prenup exists that has been violated. What mattered was ensuring that both parties maintain a quality of life that is as substantially similar to pre-divorce levels as possible. The longer you've been married (and of course if kids are in the picture), the more detailed these rules can get. But, again, CA and NY will have different rules and contingencies and the kind of attorney your friend seeks will be able to answer these questions probably in a quick phone consultation before any $ changes hands.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:54 PM on May 8, 2015

Doesn't matter whose name the house is in in NY, just to say.
posted by spitbull at 5:16 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

General information about spousal support in NY is available from womenslaw.org.
For temporary maintenance, there are specific guidelines which lay out how much you can get. These guidelines are explained in a manual prepared by Her Justice and the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project.
Information about how to find an attorney is available at the MeFi Wiki Get a lawyer page, including links to state-specific resources. Answers to the questions listed here all depend on the specific facts, and a lawyer will be able to explain how the laws apply to your friend's case.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:12 PM on May 8, 2015

I am not your lawyer (or your friend's lawyer). This is not legal advice. Generally speaking, infidelity will not affect spousal support in New York. That usually only comes into play when there are issues surrounding children.

If your friend would like a recommendation for an attorney in NY, please MeMail me. I recently went through this process myself.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:21 PM on May 8, 2015

Spousal maintenance can be negotiated. It's going to come down to what her husband is entitled to, legally, with respect to splitting the marital assets. The longer the marriage, the more the husband might be entitled to.
posted by PsuDab93 at 10:02 AM on May 12, 2015

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