While the masses rejoice about the concept of No Fault Divorce coming to New York, those of us in the matrimonial field are cringing about the other things attached by the State Democratic Assembly in order to pass this bill. Mandatory guidelines have been put in place to dictate maintenance (alimony) taking the discretion out of the hands of the judiciary much the same way that Child Support has operated. While some may be thrilled at this change most will not understand that this may make obtaining a divorce even harder than before.
This change drastically deviates from the rules and guidelines set forth in the original equitable distribution statute enacted in 1985. Also it clearly changes the intent of the the equitable distribution law. In 1985 the term "Alimony" was changed to "Maintenance" and while it was made gender neutral it basically did away with the life time alimony provisions of years past. Maintenance became the term for temporary support, meant to help rehabilitate the non-monied spouse( the one who made less money) and it was used sparingly based on the term of the marriage.
The new rules set forth mandatory percentages and terms some of which have now brought new life to the issue of lifetime maintenance. While meant to equalize the finances of the parties, these new rules have taken a step backward in making divorce that much more contentious since the issue of spousal support has always been a sore topic in the field of divorce.
Pity that the no fault law has so many attachments to it which will probably negate any value which the provision was meant to have...setting divorce negotiations back to the drawing board and making the fight that much more expensive in the long run.