Prior to the new maintenance guidelines, Judges had the discretion to set the duration of the maintenance award, and said award was always modifiable and subject to review after a certain number of months.
With the new maintenance guidelines, it is often difficult to come to terms with the recommended duration of the maintenance award; for those having to pay maintenance, it’s too long, and for those seeking maintenance, it’s too short.
In a recent decision, the parties seem to struggle with the duration of the maintenance award. The parties had been married for six months prior to separating, and a total of 32 months post-separation. The Wife was unemployed and had not looked for employment since 2012. The Husband’s income was $160,000 per year. Furthermore, the Wife had not looked for employment during the pendency of the case and claimed that she had the inability to work.
The Wife claimed that she had an impairment in her left hand that prevented her from working. However, the Judge noted that the Wife was using her left hand throughout the trial and even pushed herself up against a chair and rested on her left hand while sitting down.
The Judge found that not only was she not impaired to find work, but that she had also been receiving temporary maintenance throughout the divorce proceedings for over a year. Applying the maintenance guidelines, he found that the Husband should pay non-modifiable maintenance in the amount of $4000 per month limited to 6.4 months at which point it would terminate permanently.
Had this case been heard prior to the new maintenance guidelines, the Judge would not have the authority to order a cut-off date for the maintenance award. The Judge would have likely ordered at least two years of maintenance to be reviewed after two years, which means the maintenance award could have likely continued longer. For those reasons, the Wife in this case tried to argue other factors that would extend her maintenance award, such as the inability to find future employment