Vesselin MitevNew York Law JournalApril 3, 2008
Noting that Americans are living longer with fewer financial resources, a Long Island, N.Y., judge has refused to order a 59-year-old car salesman to pay lifetime maintenance to an ex-wife with health problems.
“[W]hile a non-durational maintenance award in this case might assuage the Court’s concerns for the wife’s future financial well being, it would do so at the expense of enslaving the historic wage earner to indefinite years of employment beyond any reasonable expected retirement,” Supreme Court Justice Anthony J. Falanga of Nassau County wrote in J.S. v. J.S.
Falanga found that Mr. S. has “no choice but to work full time” until he turns 65 and has the ability to work until he is 70 in order to provide for his ex-wife.
Thus, he ordered Mr. S. to pay a monthly stipend of $3,000 only for 10 years. The payments will stop should Ms. S. remarry or either party die during that period.
The case, according to attorneys familiar with the issues, is illustrative of a trend — Americans are living longer and in relatively good health while facing a diminishing income as they pass retirement age. This presents a unique challenge to courts in projecting what amount someone facing retirement should have to pay for maintenance of a former spouse.
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