In a Divorce, “maintenance” is determined based upon the need of a spouse to become self-supporting.  Many factors are examined including age, health, and length of the marriage.  In 2010, Governor Patterson signed a bill amending Section 236(B)(6) of the Domestic Relations Law, which added eight additional factors a court should consider when determining whether maintenance is appropriate in a divorce proceeding. In Family Court, spousal support is determined based upon the doctrine of necessities, that is, the need of that spouse for necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter.

Also in 2010, Governor Patterson signed a bill into law that added a new provision to the Domestic Relations Law (specifically Section 236(B)(5-a)), which applies to requests for “temporary maintenance” in divorce actions commenced after October 12, 2010.    Temporary maintenance is paid by one spouse to the other spouse pending a final resolution of the divorce.  When one spouse makes a request for temporary maintenance, the court must now apply a numeric formula in determining whether temporary maintenance is appropriate.   If the court determines that temporary maintenance is appropriate, the amount of temporary maintenance to be paid pursuant to the formula is presumed to be correct, unless the spouse obligated to pay that maintenance can prove that the amount of maintenance is “unjust or inappropriate” based upon a series of statutory factors.