One of the most contentious issues in New Jersey divorce negotiations is often alimony. Alimony is also referred to as spousal support and may be afforded to either husband or wife. Both parties come to the table with different concerns. In some situations, the person required to make payments may feel that the concept is unjust and an undue burden. Alternatively, the individual requesting spousal support may look upon alimony as a means of survival.
Spousal support is only available to individuals who are legally married or joined in a civil union. Calculations and duration are dependent on a number of factors. Upon motion to the court, spousal support may be ordered before the conclusion of the divorce proceedings.
Notably, alimony payments must be reported on tax returns. The individual who pays spousal support outlays may claim it as a deduction. Meanwhile, the recipient is expected to report alimony as income. (The same is not the case with child support payments.)
Like other aspects of divorce, Law Offices of DiFrancia & DeDona. understands that spousal support is of great importance. Our Attorneys have extensive experience in family law matters to negotiate an equitable solution that will receive judicial approval.
Alimony in New Jersey
First and foremost, it is critical to understand the purpose of alimony. During a couple’s marriage, they will both become accustomed to a particular lifestyle. After their separation and divorce, neither partner should be denied that same enjoyment. Additionally, a marital split may mean that either husband or wife that the either party may have an inconsistent economic advantage.
You most likely know the typical argument for spousal support. Either mother or father stays home to take care of the children. He or she forego their own educational and employment pursuits. In the meantime, the other spouse is the breadwinner. Under New Jersey law, the disparity regarding income calls for judicial intervention. Although child support will help with the needs of the children, additional financial assistance is crucial. Often, the duration of spousal support has an expiration date and is conditional.
Spousal Support Considerations
All parties involved in divorce cases are required to complete and file Case Information Statements with the court. As a matter of course, Our Attorneys will send a blank copy of this form and requests that clients prepare draft answers.
There is no question that the Case Information Statement is cumbersome. Among the necessary details are information concerning income and expenditures. Clients should be honest and ready to supply supporting documentation as needed.
Matters considered in conjunction with alimony payments are described in NJSA 2A:34-23. The court will seek answers to the following questions.
- How old were the parties at the time they married or joined in civil union?
- How old will the parties be at the time of the alimony award?
- What is the degree and duration of the party’s dependency during the marriage or civil union?
- Is one of the spouses or partners suffering from a chronic illness or unusual health circumstance?
- Has a spouse or partner given up a career or a career opportunity or otherwise supported the career of the other spouse or partner?
- Has one of the parties received a disproportionate share of equitable distribution?
- Did the relationship impact either party’s ability to become self-supporting, including but not limited to either party’s responsibility as primary caretaker of a child?
- Are there tax considerations?
- Are there other factors or circumstances that the court deems equitable, relevant and material?
Preliminary, Our Attorneys will review the answers to these questions with your spouse’s counsel to determine if spousal support is warranted. All negotiations are subject to judicial approval. Additionally, there are different types of alimony.
Types of Alimony
To start with, permanent alimony, also known as lifetime alimony has virtually become a thing of the past. Also, spousal support for marriages lasting less than twenty years is only available for the number of years the couple were legally wed. Different types of alimony include:
- Open Durational Alimony: Only available to parties who have been legally married or part of a civil union for more than twenty years. Intended as a replacement for permanent alimony. There is a presumption that alimony obligations will end when the payer reaches legal retirement age.
- Limited Duration Alimony: May be modified based either upon changed circumstances or upon the nonoccurrence of circumstances that the court found would occur at the time of the award. The court may alter the amount of such an award but shall not modify the length of the term except in unusual circumstances.
The duration of alimony is based on the court’s assessment of how long it would reasonably take for the recipient to improve his or her earning capacity to a level where limited duration alimony is no longer appropriate. The award will not exceed the number of years the couple was married.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: Designed to give the recipient an opportunity to receive proper training and education to improve earnings potential. The time frame may include a period of employment during which rehabilitation will occur. An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified based either upon changed circumstances or upon the nonoccurrence of circumstances that the court found would occur at the time of the rehabilitative award.
- Reimbursement Alimony: May be awarded under circumstances in which one party supported the other through an advanced education, anticipating participation in the fruits of the earning capacity generated by that education. An award of reimbursement alimony shall not be modified for any reason.
When it comes to establishing or modifying alimony awards, other nuances in the law should be addressed by legal counsel.
An award of alimony is not just relevant in high net divorce cases. It can apply to average wage earners as well. We want to help. Contact the Law Offices of DiFrancia & DeDona. for experienced legal advice concerning spousal support.