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Alimony, or support paid by one spouse to another upon divorce, is often a highly-contested issue. By statute (N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 (b)), the courts of New Jersey are authorized to award to either spouse “one or more” of four (4) different forms of alimony: “open durational” (i.e., without a set end date); “limited duration” (for a specific term of years); “rehabilitative” (to afford a supported spouse time to gain financial independence) and “reimbursement” (to compensate a supported spouse for, by way of example, contributions made to the other party’s education or career).
Unlike child support, there is no established formula or rubric for the calculation of alimony in New Jersey and the courts are instead tasked with analyzing the statutory factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) to determine both the duration and amount of alimony.
These factors include:
- The ability and need for parties to pay
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of both spouses
- The marriage's established standard of living and each spouse's ability to maintain a comparable standard living
- The education and current and potential earning capacities of each spouse
- The length of time the spouse seeking maintenance has been away from the job market
- The spouses' separate parental responsibilities to the children
- The expense and time required of the spouse seeking maintenance to acquire the training or education needed for employment, their access to training and employment, and any opportunities they have to secure future capital assets
- The contributions (financial and non-financial) each spouse provided the marriage, including childcare, and any resulting professional or academic interruption they caused
- The equitable division of property that's been decided by the court, including any payouts out of current income
- Each spouse's available income via investments
- The tax considerations and consequences that both parties may incur by an alimony award
- Any other factors the court finds relevant
As can be seen from the list above, the determination of alimony in New Jersey is extremely fact-sensitive. Additionally, a host of other factors come into play with respect to the determination of alimony and its modification including, but not limited to, a party’s need for a “savings component” as part of an alimony award, a supporting spouse’s retirement, and a supported spouse’s cohabitation.
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 was amended in September 2014 to provide that for any marriage or civil union lasting less than 20 years, the court is precluded from awarding alimony for a duration that exceeds the length of the marriage or civil union absent “exceptional circumstances”.
The amendment further modified the standard to establish a supported spouse’s cohabitation for purposes of suspending or terminating alimony, as well as that applied to modification applications (particularly with respect to a supporting spouse’s retirement).
How We Can Help
At Ziegler, Zemsky & Resnick, we work closely with tax, estate, and financial service professionals to ensure that our clients meet their financial needs and goals, both now and in the future.
Our experienced team of skilled and seasoned lawyers is ready to handle your divorce at any stage. We are prepared to manage situations as they arise including, but not limited to, pendente lite applications for temporary support, motions for emergency support, post-judgment modifications, and changes in circumstance.
In light of recent reforms and as future change occurs, it is vital to have a law firm on your side that is familiar with the criteria used in determining alimony awards, and we are prepared to handle the most complex of cases. Whether you are in need of alimony to secure your future or are concerned about limiting your exposure, our attorneys are prepared to advocate for you and protect your interests.
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