Maintenance Legislation 2015
The most significant package of domestic relations legislation since passage of the Child Support Standards Act of 1989 (CSSA) was signed into law on August 13, 2010 by Governor David Paterson.
This monograph will delineate and describe the new changes in the law and attempt to anticipate some of the issues that will confront bench and bar. It will also endeavor to suggest possible resolutions for some of those issues, recognizing – and, yes, this is by way of disclaimer – that the courts have been so chaotic in recent years that any attempt at prediction is undertaken at extreme peril.
What is written here is by no means intended as “the last word” on anything. Indeed, it does not even qualify as an “intermediate word.” It makes no pretense that it is definitive. Indeed, there can be no definitive analysis of a law that has yet to go into effect and hit the intellectual meat-grinder of litigation wherein consistency is indeed the “hobgoblin of little minds,” to borrow Emerson’s splendid phrase. It purports to be no more than a beginning, a starting point for thought about the issues that will confront both bench and bar in fleshing out the skeletal statute that has delivered no-fault divorce to New York and in trying to make sense out of the labyrinth of the temporary maintenance provisions enacted this year.
Certainly, this monograph leaves depths unplumbed. That is the inevitable compromise between the imperative of timeliness and the desire to explore every possible nook and cranny of the philosophical, substantive and procedural issues lurking within the new law.
Not all of the new statutory language merits the same depth of coverage. In the case of the new no-fault ground, we will look to other jurisdictions for guidance to see how other courts have addressed some of the important issues over the past four decades. One would expect the New York courts to do likewise as they go about the business of interpreting and applying the new no-fault ground.
The new temporary maintenance scheme is best explained simply by parsing it out and will best be understood through examples of the computations required. Several are provided. In depth discussion of most of the statutory factors set forth throughout is not required because in most instances they are carry-overs or reiterations of existing criteria. Also, many of the provisions of the temporary maintenance statute parallel the Child Support Standards Act. For these, simply identifying their presence is sufficient as the practitioner is already familiar with them from child support practice. Where incongruities exist, they will be identified as they are encountered.
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