Changes in Maintenance Law from a New Assembly Member Featured in the New York Law Journal
This fall, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a bill sponsored by freshman Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright that will reduce the amount of time that divorced parents spend in court. The legislation applies to child support orders in which child support is calculated based on a payor’s income after maintenance payments are deducted. The new law requires that such orders contain provisions specifically stating the amount of child support that will be owed once spousal maintenance is terminated, eliminating the need for parents to seek a modification in court upon the maintenance period’s conclusion. By calling for an automatic adjustment of child support owed once the spousal maintenance award is terminated, the law will save divorced parents time and money.
The new law, which was featured in the New York Law Journal on October 28, 2015, also clarifies that the formula for calculating child support should classify spousal maintenance paid or to be paid as taxable income to the recipient spouse, not the payor. The rationale for the clarification is that spousal maintenance actually paid or to be paid is money no longer available as income to the payor and, as a result, should constitute income to the recipient for purposes of calculating child support and for tax purposes.
“I am pleased that the Governor has signed this important piece of legislation into law,” Assembly Member Seawright said. “By clarifying the formula for determining child support, this law will minimize the amount of time and money that families spend in court while also ensuring that each case is handled in a fair, even-keeled, and expeditious manner,” Seawright continued. “Additionally, as a former Assistant District Attorney and Administrative Law Judge, I have seen firsthand how overburdened and underfinanced our court system is in New York. I look forward to continuing my efforts to alleviate stress on the court system as a member of the Judiciary Committee in the New York State Assembly.”
The bill received support from the Pace Women’s Justice Center, The Legal Aid Society, the New York Legal Assistance Group, Family Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, and the New York State Unified Court System and passed the Assembly and Senate virtually unanimously.#