The Financial Help you Need to Start Your New Life
You may not have had a great marriage, but your marriage allowed you to enjoy a comfortable home and a positive bank balance. Now that your marriage is ending, you may be concerned about your financial future. Alimony can help you make ends meet while you transition to financial independence.
Alimony in New Jersey
In New Jersey, alimony (also called spousal support or spousal maintenance) is sum of money paid by one spouse to the other during or after a divorce. Alimony may also be paid when a civil union is dissolved.
The purpose of alimony is to prevent a divorce from having a stronger economic impact on one spouse than another. When possible, alimony allows each divorcing spouse to continue to maintain a lifestyle comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage. But, alimony isn’t awarded in all New Jersey divorces. If both you and your spouse are employed and have comparable incomes, the court is unlikely to see a need for alimony. Spousal support is usually reserved for divorces where one spouse has a significantly higher income or higher earning potential than the other.
In most cases, alimony is temporary. But, if your marriage has lasted for more than 20 years, you may be eligible to receive permanent alimony. If your marriage has lasted for less than twenty years, New Jersey law limits the amount of time that you can receive alimony to the amount of time that you were marred. However, even temporary support can allow the spouse with lower income or less earning potential time to become financially independent.
Calculating Alimony in New Jersey
There is no formula for calculating alimony in New Jersey. Instead, family courts consider each case independently and base decisions on a variety of factors.
Factors that may impact a New Jersey alimony decision:
- The need for alimony: does one spouse require financial support in order to maintain the marital standard of living?
- The ability to pay alimony: Is the other spouse is able to maintain a comparable lifestyle while paying alimony?
- Duration of the marriage: How long the couple was married or joined in a civil union? For marriages of less than 20 years, the term of alimony may not exceed the length of the marriage except in “exceptional circumstances”.
- Marital standard of living: Can each party maintain a standard of living similar to that enjoyed during the marriage or civil union? How much of an increase in living expenses is needed for both parties to a comparable to the standard of living?
- Age: Is the unemployed spouse too old to start a new career? Is the spouse close to retirement age?
- Health: Does a spouse’s physical/mental health or level of disability affect the ability to earn an income? Does a spouse have additional expenses because of a health problem or disability?
- Income: How much income is available to each spouse? Is there additional income resulting from the distribution of marital property?
- Assets: Does a spouse have access to investment income, business income or other assets?
- Contributions to the marriage and family: How did each spouse contribute to the marital home? Did one or both spouses contribute financially? Was one spouse the primary parent? Did one spouse have more home maintenance responsibilities? Did a spouse interrupt his or her career to care for children?
- Earning capacity and employability: How much is each spouse’s earning potential based on both education level and work history? What are each spouse’s vocational skills? Was a spouse absent from the workplace due to parenting responsibilities? Is there a need for education or training in order to obtain employment?
- Parenting responsibility: Are there young children? What is each spouse’s parenting responsibility?
- Tax effects: How will the tax effects of paying alimony affect each spouse? Alimony payments are usually considered taxable income and are deductible by the paying spouse.
- Pendente-lite support paid: Was temporary support paid during separation or the divorce proceedings?
- Other factors: Courts may consider any other factors that seem relevant.
Is alimony appropriate in your divorce?
If your divorce will cause economic hardship, you may want to consider a request for alimony. Melinda M. Previtera and her team are happy to discuss your options and help you work out the right solution for your family. Call us at 856-942-0150 to request a telephone consultation.
Palimony in New Jersey
Palimony is a term for support paid to a partner who does not have a right to alimony or spousal support. It is often paid when a couple who lives together without entering into a legal marriage or civil union ends the relationship.
“Palimony” is not a true legal term in New Jersey. Unmarried partners do not have an obligation to provide support, even when responsibilities are divided in a way that leaves one partner financially dependent on the other. Property is not divided trough a marital property agreement because there is no marriage. However, it is legal for one partner to voluntarily assume a contractual obligation to provide the other partner with future support or property rights.
You may have a viable New Jersey “palimony” claim if one of the following is true:
- Your partner signed a written cohabitation or partnership agreement.
- You and your partner have a verbal cohabitation or partnership agreement that was created prior to January 18, 2010.
Palimony claims are complex and each situation is unique. Contact our experienced family law attorneys to discuss your case.