In New York, spousal support or maintenance is designed to provide a stream of income to a dependent spouse to ensure that he or she can maintain the lifestyle that they have become accustomed to during the marriage. Spousal support may be granted to a spouse who is a stay-at-home parent and who may have sacrificed their own career or education to support the other spouse’s career or to care for the children. In many cases, this can be a woman who has stayed at home to raise children and care for the household, although it can also apply to men who fulfill this role.
When deciding on spousal support, the court takes into account a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the income of both parties, the earning potential of each spouse, and the contributions made by each spouse to the marriage, including any sacrifices made by a stay-at-home parent. Courts will often consider the standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage and will attempt to provide for the dependent spouse in a manner that is consistent with that standard of living.
In cases where a spouse has sacrificed their own career to support the other spouse’s career or to care for the children, the court may consider the income that the stay-at-home parent could have earned had they pursued their own career. This is known as imputed income, and it can be used to calculate spousal support. For example, if a stay-at-home parent gave up a career as a lawyer to care for the children, the court may impute income based on what the lawyer could have earned had they continued their career. In cases like Wickerham v. Wickerham the court must take a closer look at the stay-at-home parent’s contributions to the marriage.
The parties in Wickerham were married in 1989 and had two children together. Throughout the marriage, the ex-wife was a stay-at-home mom, while the ex-husband was the sole breadwinner, earning over $200,000 per year.
In 2004, the ex-husband filed for divorce, and the trial court awarded the ex-wife $1,750 per month in spousal support. The ex-husband appealed the decision, arguing that the trial court had erred in awarding spousal support to the ex-wife.
The ex-husband appealed the decision, arguing that the trial court erred in awarding spousal support to his ex-wife. The ex-husband argued that the trial court should have considered the ex-wife’s earning capacity and work history when making its decision, rather than focusing solely on the couple’s standard of living during the marriage. However, the appellate court rejected the ex-husband’s argument, noting that the ex-wife had no marketable skills or work experience, and that her primary role during the marriage was to care for the couple’s children and manage the household.
The appellate court also noted that the ex-husband was earning significantly more money than the ex-wife, and that the $1,750 monthly payment was reasonable and necessary to support the ex-wife and their children. The appellate court held that the trial court did not err in awarding spousal support to the ex-wife and affirmed the decision.
The Wickerham demonstrates the importance of considering the contribution of stay-at-home moms to the family’s wellbeing when awarding spousal support. If you are a stay-at-home mom going through a divorce or dissolution of your marriage, it is essential to understand your rights and seek the advice of an experienced New York family law lawyer. An attorney can help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure that you receive the spousal support and other benefits to which you are entitled. It is important to note that spousal support is not guaranteed, even in cases where one spouse has stayed at home to raise the children. The court will consider all relevant factors in determining whether spousal support is appropriate and, if so, in what amount.