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Court orders husband's support of ex-wife cut from $2,000 to $500 monthly

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In Jaramillo v. Jaramillo, a four member appellate court has ruled unanimously that a husband's support payments to his ex-wife should be cut from $2,000 to $500 a month temporarily. A lower court had set the payment at $2,000 a month, but the appellate court ruled that the amount was excessive based on the husband's income. The case has been sent back to the lower court to come up with a new and lower maintenance amount.

The appellate court stated the following about the lower court's decision:

"Here, the Supreme Court found that the defendant's net income was $62,567 annually, or $5,213.92 each month. After paying his monthly expenses, which the court found to be $3,818.80, the defendant would be left with $1,395.12 per month with which to pay maintenance and his child support obligation of $235.34 per week. "Recognizing the fact that the need of the defendant to maintain a separate household and have money to live on after support payments are made must be taken into account by the awarding court" (Keehn v Keehn, 137 AD2d 493, 495), we [*2]conclude that the court improvidently exercised its discretion in directing the defendant to pay maintenance to the plaintiff in the sum of $2,000 per month."

The appellate court did affirm the duration of payments which is six years. It also affirmed the decision of the lower court that required the husband to pay the ex-wife's attorney fees of $7500.

The court explained the legal rationale for determining maintenance agreements:

"[T]he amount and duration of maintenance is a matter committed to the sound discretion of the trial court, and every case must be determined on its unique facts" (Meccariello v Meccariello, 46 AD3d 640, 641; see Williams v Williams, 102 AD3d 957; Kaufman v Kaufman, 102 AD3d 925). "The court may order maintenance in such amount as justice requires, considering, inter alia, the standard of living of the parties during the marriage, the income and property of the parties, the distribution of marital property, the duration of the marriage, the health of the parties, the present and future earning capacity of both parties, the ability of the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting, and the reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance" (Kret v Kret, 222 AD2d 412; see Domestic Relations Law § 236[B][6][a]; McLoughlin v McLoughlin, 74 AD3d 911, 913; Kaufman v Kaufman, 102 AD3d at 926).

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