ALBANY – A new system for calculating interim maintenance awards in matrimonial actions, adopted last year to make no-fault divorce more palatable, is under fire from many attorneys who say it is confusing, and potentially inequitable.
Several matrimonial lawyers said the new rules are so rigid that they have taken from judges the discretion to decide fair temporary payments while divorce actions are pending.
But more and more lower court opinions have tackled the statute’s anomalies.
In Scott M. v. Ilona M., 31 Misc. 3d 353, 915 N.Y.S. 2d 834 (2011), for instance, Justice Sunshine deviated from the guidelines by ruling that the temporary maintenance total was inadequate to meet the expenses of a wife and the couple’s child, and he increased the amount, as well as awarded attorney’s fees to the woman’s attorney (NYLJ, Feb. 1).
Other cases, including J.H. v. W.H., 31 Misc.3d 1203(A), 2011 WL 1158653, and Jill G. v. Jeffrey G., 31 Misc.3d 1209(A), 2011 WL 1364481, have explored questions of how attorney’s fees, child support and tax consequences should factor into the temporary maintenance formulas.
Meanwhile, court administrators have supplied judges and litigants with an eight-page online worksheet for calculating an appropriate maintenance award.