Alimony in New Jersey

When a married household becomes two – what happens to the income?

When there is a financial imbalance between two spouses in a divorce  — especially a long-term divorce — spousal support, or alimony, is usually an issue. Alimony can be one of the most emotional components of any divorce and is a complex and fact-sensitive issue. Although popular entertainment has promoted the idea that a husband pays alimony to a wife, the reality is that alimony is gender-neutral and is based on the relative incomes of the individuals.

The complex waters of alimony are something you shouldn’t dip in without the right legal support. Questions swirl around — what are your rights, what can you expect, how long does the process take? At Keith Family Law, we understand these concerns and are here to provide clarity and reassurance every step of the way.

Alimony cases are deeply personal and can significantly impact your future. That’s why it’s crucial to have a knowledgeable, compassionate team by your side. Keith Family Law is here to guide you through the legal maze and ensure you feel supported, heard, and confident throughout your journey. We’re here for you, ready to fight for your rights and secure the most ideal outcome for your case. To learn more about our alimony lawyers in NJ, contact us today.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is a financial support that one spouse may be obliged to provide to the other during or after a divorce. The purpose of alimony is to ensure that both parties maintain a comparable standard of living to what they enjoyed during the marriage. Determining alimony involves considering various factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and the needs of each party.

In New Jersey, there are several types of alimony that could apply to your situation. Our team will help you understand these different types and how they might affect your case:

  • Temporary (or “pendente lite”) Alimony: Provided while the divorce proceedings are ongoing.
  • Limited Duration Alimony: Awarded for a short period post-divorce to allow the receiving spouse to become self-supporting.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony: Granted to support the spouse while they gain necessary skills or education for employment.
  • Permanent Alimony: Given in long-term marriages and when the recipient spouse cannot become self-supporting due to age, health conditions, or other factors.
  • Reimbursement Alimony: Awarded in certain circumstances to compensate one spouse for financial contributions to the other’s education or career advancement during the marriage.

The Journey to Alimony: Understanding the Process in NJ

The alimony process begins with an evaluation of the spouses’ financial situations. This includes income, assets, debts, and marital lifestyle. The court then considers the need and ability of each spouse to pay alimony. Factors such as age, physical and emotional health, standard of living during the marriage, and parental responsibilities are also taken into account. The process can be complex, but Keith Family Law is home to an impressive legal team that will guide you through each step.

How Long, How Much? Breaking Down Alimony Payments

Alimony is a financial obligation one spouse pays the other during or following a divorce. It’s designed to prevent significant disparities in the living standards of the two parties post-divorce. At Keith Family Law, we aim to simplify the understanding of alimony payments in New Jersey.

There’s no fixed formula for calculating alimony in New Jersey. Instead, courts consider several factors, such as the need and ability of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the age and health of both parties, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

Yes, alimony payments can be modified. For example, if there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as loss of employment, a substantial increase in income, retirement, or severe illness, the courts will take a substantial change into consideration. However, the courts are very wary of modifying alimony and if you are in this position, guidance from and experienced divorce attorney is key.

For divorce judgments entered after January 1, 2019, alimony payments are no longer tax-deductible for the payor, and the recipient does not have to report them as income. However, alimony payments for divorce judgements entered prior to January 1, 2019 are still taxable to the recipient and deductible to the payor.

Sarah and Michael: Alimony in New Jersey

Our New Jersey couple — Sarah, a freelance writer, and Michael, a professional architect — find themselves at a crossroads and are considering divorce. For Sarah, alimony becomes a lifeline, offering stability after 12 years of being supported by Michael. It means the assurance of a secure future as she embarks on a new chapter.

Michael, a resident of their close-knit New Jersey town, grapples with the responsibility of providing alimony. The financial considerations raise questions about his architectural dreams and independence within the familiar backdrop of their community. The uncertainty adds an emotional layer to the already intricate legal process.

Sarah and Michael met with their attorneys and started to look at their situation in light of some of the factors the courts use to determine alimony in New Jersey:

  • The Difference in their Income: Sarah’s freelance writing career yields a modest income compared to Michael’s lucrative profession as an architect. The disparity in their income underscores the need for Michael to provide financial support to Sarah post-divorce so she may maintain a standard of living reasonably close to what they achieved during the marriage.
  • Length of Marriage: Sarah and Michael had been married for 12 years, during which they established a joint lifestyle and financial interdependence. The length of their marriage will be a key contributing factor in how long alimony will likely be paid.
  • Sarah’s Financial Needs: Sarah’s income falls far short of giving her the ability to approximate the lifestyle she and Michael achieved during the marriage. Some form of alimony will likely be necessary to help bridge the gap between her earnings and her financial requirements.
  • Michael’s Capacity to Pay: Michael’s far higher income positions him as the primary earner during the marriage. Assessing his earning capacity will be crucial in determining his ability to contribute to Sarah’s expenses and to his own after the divorce.

Sarah and Michael then consider some of the different types of alimony available in New Jersey:

  1. Temporary Alimony: Temporary alimony, also known as pendente lite alimony, may be a crucial aspect for Sarah and Michael during their divorce proceedings. It provides financial support to help maintain the status quo during the in-court or settlement process.
  2. Rehabilitative Alimony: Rehabilitative alimony could play a role in Sarah’s journey, providing support as she considers educational or career rehabilitation to achieve financial independence in her new life.
  3. Open Duration Alimony: Open duration alimony may not be a consideration for Michael, given the length of their marriage was only 12 years. Open duration alimony provides long-term financial support, recognizing potential disparities in earning capacity and each party’s ability to create savings.
  4. Reimbursement Alimony: Reimbursement alimony may resonate with Sarah or Michael if one has made significant financial sacrifices during the marriage to support the other’s education or career advancement.
  5. Lump Sum Alimony: Also known as an “alimony buyout,” lump sum alimony is calculated and paid out all at once (or credited against another asset in equitable distribution). With its “clean break” nature, lump sum alimony might be a viable option for Sarah and Michael, providing finality and financial resolution without ongoing obligations.

Ready to Get Started? Contact Us Today

Understanding these different types of alimony is crucial to Sarah and Michael as they navigate their divorce. They may even be able to combine some of these forms of alimony to suit their individual needs. Join them in discovering insights that empower you to confidently shape your financial path after divorce. Turn to Keith Family Law for more important insight into alimony in New Jersey.

Partner With Keith Family Law to Get the Answers You Need

Keith Family Law provides legal advice, comprehensive support, and everything you need for a successful alimony journey. We’re here to help you understand the complexities of alimony laws in New Jersey and craft a legal approach that aligns you with comfort for your family and children. Your case doesn’t have to be a battle fought alone. With Keith Family Law, you have a trusted ally in your corner in the following NJ counties:

  • Union County
  • Essex County
  • Middlesex County
  • Warren County
  • Hunterdon County
  • Morris County
  • Hudson County
  • Bergen County
  • Monmouth County

Every end is a new beginning

Contact our family law attorneys today to schedule your initial consultation or explore how we can help people just like you in specific family law areas: