At the Law Office of Rachel S. Cotrino, our lawyers handle claims for spousal support, otherwise known as alimony. As experienced New Jersey alimony lawyers, we know that spousal support is among the most hotly contested disputes in many divorce cases. Typically, one spouse wants and needs alimony while the other spouse does not want to pay. Whether you are paying or receiving spousal support, the amount of alimony can impact the quality of your new life and your financial standing for many years. If you are going through a divorce in New Jersey, then the information below will help you get a better understanding of the laws and the issues involved regarding spousal support.
In New Jersey, alimony is an amount of money one spouse pays to the other during a marital separation, ongoing divorce, or after the final decree of divorce. Spousal support can also apply during or after the dissolution of a civil union or same-sex marriage. In some cases, unmarried couples may also need to pay/receive alimony in New Jersey. The general purposes of alimony are:
- Maintaining a lifestyle as similar as possible to the lifestyle the couple enjoyed together during marriage, and
- Balancing the divorce’s economic consequences to prevent these consequences from impacting either spouse disproportionately.
In New Jersey, there is no mathematical formula for calculating the appropriate amount and the duration of spousal support. Every couple’s situation is unique. Therefore, the court decides alimony based on various factors listed in NJSA 2A:34-23b. According to NJSA 2A:34-23b, in all actions brought for divorce, dissolution of a civil union, divorce from bed and board, legal separation from a partner in a civil union couple or nullity the court may award one or more of the following types of alimony: open durational alimony; rehabilitative alimony; limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony to either party. In so doing the court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following factors:
(1) The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
(2) The duration of the marriage or civil union;
(3) The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
(4) The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
(5) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
(6) The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
(7) The parental responsibilities for the children;
(8) The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
(9) The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
(10) The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
(11) The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
(12) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment;
(13) The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid, if any; and
(14) Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
By taking into account these factors, the court tries to help both parties maintain a standard of living comparable to that which they had while together. For example, if the earning power of both parties is equal, then no alimony may be needed. However, if one spouse gave up their career to stay home with children, that spouse may be entitled to a lengthier alimony term.
Some of the factors a court will consider whether to terminate or modify a Spousal Support obligation include:
- Remarriage of the Supported Spouse
- Cohabitation of the Supported Spouse
- Retirement or Permanent Disability of the Supporting Spouse
- A substantial and permanent increase/decrease in income of the parties
- Extensive Unemployment by one or both of the parties
This is not an exhaustive list of all the factors the Court will consider. The Court’s determination is typically done on a case by case basis. We urge you to contact us today to determine if the Spousal Support obligation in your matter needs to be modified.
Our divorce attorneys exclusively practice family law in New Jersey. We have handled countless cases involving issues of spousal support. Let us help you. Call the Law Office of Rachel S. Cotrino, LLC at 732-987-996 for an initial consultation.