In this era of formula-driven child support and spousal maintenance awards (at least for post-January 2016 divorces), it is interesting to see how courts handle the cases where income exceeds the formulaic caps. In Sprole v. Sprole, 2016 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8765; 2016 NY Slip Op 08911, the Third Department Appellate Division upheld most aspects of Justice Ames’s (Tompkins County) decision. In a marriage of 25 years, where husband earned a salary of $415,000 and wife had no income, the Appellate Division upheld an award of $1,997.50 per month in child support, which was based on the statutory cap of $141,000, and a spousal maintenance award of $8,000 per month for 60 months.
Factors cited as supporting the trial court’s decision with regard to spousal maintenance included that the wife was relatively young, in good health, possessed a bachelors degree in biology (but had not worked in 19 years as of the date of the decision), and was receiving a property award totaling $1,240,000, including a 30% distributive award on the value of the husband’s business.
The Supreme Court’s decision to base child support on only $141,000 of income was justified because: husband had custody of the couple’s younger daughter and had waived the right to receive any child support from the wife for the younger daughter; the older daughter, in the wife’s custody, had access to a college savings account with $85,000 in it; and the husband agreed to pay any remaining college costs for both children, and was paying 100% of the children’s insurance expenses.
The appellant wife was pro se. Respondent husband was represented by John A. Cirando of Syracuse, New York.