Who You Decide to Marry is the Most Important Business Decision of Your Life
Whether or not to marry is a huge decision. The person you choose to marry will most certainly affect your career and wealth.
Maintenance (formerly alimony in New York) takes into consideration how one spouse may have affected the other spouse’s career. If one spouse withdraws from the workforce to care for young children and this continues for many years, the working spouse has ratified this situation. There will be a presumption that the non-working spouse would be entitled to maintenance as they have suffered the advancement of their own careers while possibly assisting the advancement of the career of the working spouse. This is the basic underlying intention of maintenance in New York. This is an old model and it is based in an old style workforce.
In today’s giga-economy we see a great decentralization of the workforce. We see a migration towards flexible schedules and at-home work environments. There is also an abundance of training and certificate programs available online and at home. It is clearly possible for one spouse to raise children while attempting to work part-time from home through the internet or otherwise and/or educate themselves. The economy is less fractured than it used to be and there is less of a division between full-time and flexible schedules. There is less of a hard definition of employment and employee, and there are many incentive or commission jobs that can be based on actual efforts as opposed to time inside an office.
New York State has recently changed its maintenance laws and while it takes into consideration the sacrifices one spouse makes, It presupposes that when one spouse withdraws from the workforce to care for the children, that the other spouse is benefitted in some way. In truth, the entire marital relationship; the children; where they live and how they live affects both parents’ ability to earn. When a marriage ends often the working parent does not enjoy any further advancements (other than the normal) and actually undertakes more responsibilities than previously, in most cases. There is an outdated prevailing thinking that seems to punish the earning spouse and reward the spouse who is not earning. This may be a disingenuous line of thinking in that even a spouse that is a full-time homemaker and caregiver can often better themselves several hours a day with online work; or education. The medium range income jobs (anything over $45,000.00-$125,000.00 per year) in Long Island seem to suffer during divorce and not flourish thereafter. It is those who are unemployed or who are under employed that enjoy significant increases. They are incentivized not to work and not to train themselves during the marriage by their spouse who allows that to continue. During the divorce, they should be attempting to train themselves and attempting to work so that they can show the true value of their efforts.
Gone are the days that where people attempt to get out of child support because they “can’t find a job”. Gone are the days where marriages end in lifetime support when the payee is employable. The definition of employable is changing in the courts. Most glaring example of how the courts attitudes are changing towards an under or unemployed spouse would be the statement that was made in one of our most recent cases. Our firm represented an individual whose husband had become hurt and his personal mobility became the problem. He was unable to ambulate to and from work, stand and move about an office as he had previously been doing. The courts in response to our client’s claim for child support referenced the husband’s intelligence and reminded the husband that “Stephen Hawking paid child support”. Not everybody is as intelligent as world renown physicist Stephen Hawking, however, most everyone that can participate in their own support case has the skills for basic employability outside of an office; from home; remotely or on a flexible schedule.
Choosing a spouse may be one of the most financial decisions you will ever make. This decision goes both ways. Each spouse is equally responsible for choosing the other and each spouse is equally responsible if one of the spouses is under or unemployed. Marriage confers many benefits and as a result, there legal entanglements and things are not one person’s fault. Very few divorces result in the non-working spouse remaining in the same lifestyle that they have been accustomed to living. This is more of a result from the divorces that ended in the 1980s and 1990s, postmillennial divorces have different results. Postmillennial divorces show that the non-working or under employed spouse will most likely suffer a reduction in the quality of their life after the breakup of the marriage. This reduction is not as a result of the abandonment of the maxim that parties should remain in the lifestyle that they are accustomed to living. Couples that have no savings or live paycheck to paycheck, cannot divide a home and live in the same manner that they have been accustomed to. This is usually because their spending habits show that they are living at the very top of their budget with one residence. Common sense dictates that these people will have a tough divorce and that their lifestyles. In economies and societies where people save one third of their income and live on two thirds or less, it is still possible to maintain the same lifestyle as prior to marriage. In New York State, if you are spending the majority of your income and your marriage is more than ten years old, chances are that you will not be able to live in the same manner when you divide this union. History shows that if the household took all of the parties’ incomes to maintain, then it is unrealistic to enrich one side over the other because one side is the perceived underdog. It is the underdog that will come from behind and often enjoy more success than the prevailing wage earner after the divorce.
The old thinking “that parties would divorce and remain at the same status of living” is so prevailing that it is preventing the settlement of many divorces. Many divorces are very clear… the parties spent 100% of their income on their family and have no savings, therefore, their lifestyle will be lessened after the divorce. It is simple economics that is being ignored while people grasp onto old language that no longer applies.
As owner of Long Island’s top divorce and family law firm I have handled thousands of cases for maintenance and or against the payment of maintenance. We have won incredible awards for our non-working spouses and for our working spouses we have tightened and reduced maintenance awards to appropriate amounts based on some reality and economics. It is important that a lawyer not build up their clients for disappointment. Lawyers will promise what can not be obtained in order to retain a case. It is the most successful lawyers that are free to guide their clients through the system in the most effective and cost-effective way. For most divorcing couples the way out of the marriage is through a deliberate but firm “Smart Divorce”. The Smarter Divorce is our seven-step process towards freedom. Freedom is a concept that has been atop enlarged by the changing work environment. As a divorce attorney I have my finger on the pulse of the local economy.
Bryan L. Salamone, Esq. is the owner of Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. Long Island’s largest most successful divorce and family law firm. Mr. Salamone remains available for consults with new clients on a daily basis and has been practicing family and matrimonial law for over twenty-five years.