How Spousal Support Is Determined In New Jersey
Spousal support, or alimony, is a hotly contested issue in many marriages. If the parties cannot agree on alimony, the court will need to decide. In New Jersey, courts are given significant discretion in deciding upon alimony, but certain factors are meant to be taken into account. Read on to learn about the factors New Jersey courts use in calculating an appropriate alimony award, and call a seasoned New Jersey alimony attorney for help with a divorce or other family law matter.
Alimony Factors in New Jersey
When making an alimony determination, the court will first defer to an agreement reached by the parties in settlement or a valid prenuptial agreement. If the parties cannot reach agreement, however, then the court will decide. The court will conduct a complex analysis based on certain factors in the statute. There is no set equation or formula to determine the alimony amount, although prior decisions can give courts and litigants an idea of what is considered fair and appropriate in similar circumstances.
New Jersey law lays out specific factors that courts are to consider when deciding upon alimony, as well as a catchall category that encompasses any other factors the court deems “relevant.” Courts are given wide discretion in applying these factors. The enumerated factors are as follows:
- The need of each party as well as the ability to pay
- The duration of the marriage
- The age, physical health, and emotional health of the parties
- The standard of living established in the marriage, and each party’s capacity to maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living after divorce
- The earning capacity, education, vocational abilities, and general employability of each party
- The length of absence from the workforce of the requesting party, if applicable
- Each party’s parental responsibilities
- The time and cost for the requesting party to obtain training and education necessary to find employment, as well as the availability of that training and employment and general future earning capacity
- Each party’s history of financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage, such as child-rearing and sacrificing personal careers
- The equitable distribution of property and any income likely to be generated as a result
- Income available to each party through investment of assets
- Tax consequences of alimony
- The parties’ respective living expenses
- Any pendente lite support already paid (temporary alimony during the divorce)
Duration of Alimony
In New Jersey, alimony is not generally meant to be permanent. In fact, the court is generally supposed to set an end date for alimony, either upon a specific event or after a set number of years. The duration of alimony should not exceed the number of years the parties were married unless the parties have been married for more than 20 years. Alimony will end upon certain events, including if the recipient remarries or cohabitates with a new partner.
For marriages of less than 20 years, open durational alimony (alimony with no end date) is not generally allowed unless certain exceptional circumstances apply. Exceptional circumstances include things like a chronic illness or other health problem, one party receiving a disproportionate share of the property distribution, or if one spouse gave up their career to support the marriage and the family.
Call Today for Advice and Assistance from a Qualified New Jersey Alimony Attorney
If you’re dealing with alimony issues or considering divorce in New Jersey, contact the experienced and trial-ready Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation.