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Alimony: NY versus CT (a.k.a. spousal support) (updated 2024)

Alimony NY versus CT (a.k.a. spousal maintenance)

Attorney Kevin Brown Family Law Attorney

Attorney Kevin C. Brown

If residency requirements to file for divorce are met in both New York and Connecticut and you have a significant marital income, evaluating the best state in which to file for your divorce could highlight material differences in the potential or expected value of your spousal support settlement.

There are significant differences in the law between Connecticut and New York as it relates to spousal support, also known as spousal maintenance in New York and alimony in Connecticut.

It is always best practice to consult with an experienced divorce and family lawyer that practices actively in both New York and Connecticut to help you evaluate if there are compelling or strategic reasons to file in one state versus the other.  Needle | Cuda: Divorce and Family Law has extensive experience with spousal support awards in both states.

 

Spousal Support (a.k.a. spousal maintenance) in New York

New York courts award spousal maintenance based on statutory guidelines that begin with formulas based on each party’s income (or capacity to earn income).  Maintenance can be awarded as a set dollar amount, usually on a monthly basis.  Currently the New York courts will make awards taking into account a maximum of $203,000 of the paying spouse’s income, unless the court exercises its discretion to consider more income.

In parts of the state with high costs of living (e.g., New York City and the surrounding suburbs), or in the case of parties with very high incomes, courts often will adjust upward the “cap” on the paying party’s income to account for the recipients’ needs, standard of living, and other relevant considerations.

New York also has guidelines for the duration of spousal maintenance based on the duration of the marriage:

15 years or less:  15 percent to 30 percent of the length of the marriage;
16 years to 20 years:                                                                                                           30 percent to 40 percent of the length of the marriage;
More than 20 years: 35 percent to 50 percent of the length of the marriage;

 Spousal Support (a.k.a. alimony) in Connecticut

Connecticut approaches alimony very differently.  There are no statutory formulas in Connecticut.  The award is left entirely to the discretion of the court and will be based on an overall assessment of the relevant facts of the case.

Rather than a fixed dollar amount, which is the usual approach in New York, in Connecticut alimony may be awarded as a percentage of a party’s income, meaning that the amount due may increase or decrease as the payor’s income changes.  The result is an award that may be greater or lesser than the award a New York court would make under the same facts.

The duration of alimony is also left entirely to the court’s discretion; however, our experience is that courts in Connecticut are likely to award alimony of a meaningfully longer duration than the New York courts, including lifetime alimony in the case of very long-term marriages.

Spousal support award outcomes (a.k.a. alimony orders) are much less predictable in Connecticut

Given the material differences in the statutes related to how spousal maintenance is determined, the bottom line is that the amount and duration of alimony in Connecticut is much less predictable than it is in New York.

Consult an attorney or law firm with experienced in both New York and Connecticut Divorce

If you can make a case for dual residency in Connecticut and New York, it is critical to evaluate the differences in applicable law and how those differences might impact the spousal maintenance (or alimony) award in your divorce.

Contact us at 203-557-9500 or through the firm’s website, www.needlecuda.com.

Compare to Alimony in Connecticut

 

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