New Hampshire’s maintenance laws will be revised January 1, with lawmakers hoping the new system will be more predictable.
Senate Law 71 was passed in a bipartisan vote earlier this year. Among other changes, a formula for determining how much a payer has to pay a payee is added to the law.
Divorce attorney Jim Ferro says that without the formula, payments could vary widely by jurisdiction.
“Under the old law, we called it the ‘wild wild west’ if you will, because if you tried your case in front of five judges, you could get five different maintenance responses,” says Ferro, who is also a certified spouse mediator.
Under the new system, the maintenance amount is up to 30% of the income difference of the ex-spouse, with a number of factors influencing the calculation. Payments can last up to half of the marriage period or until the payer reaches retirement age. According to Ferro, it is at the discretion of a judge to change the terms of the maintenance payment. Critics of the new law argue that the formulas go too far in limiting judges’ discretion.
As of January 1st, the Federal Maintenance Act will also change. Payments are no longer deductible and receipt of maintenance payments is no longer considered taxable income.