How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

States handle spousal support, sometimes called “alimony” or “palimony,” in many different ways. Most go on a case-by-case basis. They consider the details of the marriage, such as its length, the incomes of each spouse, the spouses’ future earning potentials, and more.


Within that construct, the court can also make decisions on how long spousal support should last. Two different couples in similar circumstances could have a very different timeline for their spousal support payments.

This system might be fairer to the spouses, depending on your perspective. In theory, it allows the court to consider spouses as individuals and make its decisions from there. Unfortunately, this approach can also create much anxiety. Essentially, it forces people to sit back and hope that the court does the right thing.

Fortunately, New York uses a direct formula when determining the length of spousal support.

New York’s Spousal Support Chart

In New York, there is a direct connection between how long a marriage lasts and how long someone should pay alimony or palimony.

  • When a marriage lasts less than 15 years, spousal support lasts between 15% and 30% of that time. For instance, if the marriage lasted 5 years, support will last between 9 months and 1.5 years.
  • When a marriage lasts less than 15 and 20 years, spousal support lasts between 30% and 40% of that time. For instance, if the marriage lasted 18 years, support will last between 5.4 years and 7.2 years.
  • When a marriage lasts over 20 years, spousal support lasts between 35% and 50% of that time. For instance, if the marriage lasted 25 years, support will last between 8.75 years and 12.5 years.

Other Factors That Influence the Length of Spousal Support

By now, you’ve probably noticed that even within this formula, there are variations. The court must use other standards to determine whether support will last for a shorter or longer length of time.

Here are some facts the court will consider when deciding if your support should last for a longer or shorter time.

  • Each person’s contribution to the marriage, including whether one spouse financially supported the other.
  • Whether there was abuse within a marriage. The abuser will likely be expected to pay for a longer length of time.
  • The amount of property the receiving spouse has after asset division. In theory, if they have more property, they don’t need support for a longer amount of time.
  • The amount of money each parent pays in child support. Typically, courts want what is in the best interests of the kids, and it will make sure they are the priority. If child support is large, this could result in a shorter spousal time for spousal support.
  • Each spouse’s ability to work and their earning potential. Ostensibly, spousal support is about helping the lower-earning spouse become financially independent. If they have a difficult career path ahead of them, the other spouse may need to pay support for longer.

Our firm is here to help if you have concerns about spousal support payments. Whether you are the payer or receiver, payments should be fair, and they should last for a reasonable length of time. You can contact us today by calling (914) 752-5333 or filling out our online contact form.

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