Support Guidelines: New York Divorce Mediator’s Best Friend

Why are the New York maintenance (alimony) and child support guidelines of the State of New York a divorce mediator’s best friend?

The New York State legislature created the maintenance and child support guidelines in order to make the amounts of support more uniform throughout New York State. This is a very good thing for a divorcing couple, their children, and society.

Many of my divorce lawyer colleagues are critical of these support guidelines. At a cocktail party they might tell me that such guidelines result in simple minded calculations that are unjust or unfair to one or both parties. The real reason they are so critical is that the guidelines help reduce divorce litigation and attorneys’ fees.

Another very good thing about the support guidelines is that in order to make a binding maintenance and child support agreement in New York, the guidelines calculations must be set forth in the agreement. Then the parties agree to either follow the guidelines calculations, or deviate from them, and if so, state the reasons for such deviation. This makes the divorcing couple think twice about agreeing to such a deviation.

My goal as a New York divorce mediator or collaborative divorce lawyer is to help […]

Marital Separation

There is much confusion about what it means to have a separation from your spouse.

An informal separation simply means that you and your spouse are living apart. There is no legal document or court involved.

A legal separation can take two forms: the separation can be according to a binding, written Separation Agreement between you and your spouse, or the separation is in compliance with a judge’s determination that you are legally separated. The latter, called a judicial separation, is very rare.
Almost all legal separations are formalized in a binding written Separation Agreement. Except for dissolving the marriage, all issues are resolved, including custody, visitation, spousal support, child support, division of assets, medical insurance, life insurance, and all other financial issues between you and your spouse. There are also provisions in the Separation Agreement that state that you and your spouse have the legal right to live separate and apart from each other, and not to be disturbed by the other spouse, as if you were single and unmarried. However, you are not yet divorced, so you cannot marry another person. (If you do so, you are committing bigamy, which is a crime in the State of New York.)