When a couple get a divorce and have children, it is somewhat of a foregone conclusion that one of the parties will have to pay child support to the other for the benefit of the children. Moreover, the law establishes certain factors and provides a specific formula for calculating child support payments. However, when it comes to awarding alimony an ex-spouse, New Jersey law is not so clear cut. In fact, courts generally have a presumption against awarding alimony to ex-spouses, and, even if they do award a former spouse alimony, the award will typically will be an amount of fixed duration. So, how do courts calculate how much, if any, to award a former spouse as alimony?
14 Factors NJ Courts Consider in Fixing Alimony Awards
In New Jersey, it is statutorily mandated that courts have into consideration these 14 factors when determining if, and how much, one ex-spouse will have to pay to the other as alimony:
The actual need and ability of the parties to pay
The duration of the marriage
The age, physical health, and emotional/mental health of the respective parties
The standard of living maintained by the parties during the marriage
Earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of each party
Length of absence in the job market (usually due to child rearing)
The parties’ parental responsibilities to the children born of the marriage
Time and expense of attaining sufficient education (this usually only applies if one spouse attained a degree during the marriage while the other spouse supported the family financially)
History of financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party
Equitable distribution of marital property that occurred during the divorce
Investment or other passive income available to each party
Tax consequences of making and receiving alimony payments to each party (currently, alimony payments are considered tax deductible to the paying party and taxable income to the receiving party)
The nature, amount, and length of alimony pendente lite paid to a party pending divorce
If one or more of these factors militate in favor of the party requesting alimony be awarded to him or her, then New Jersey courts are more likely to award alimony payments to that party. However, based on an analysis of these factors, if a court determines that awarding a party alimony is appropriate, then the award will be based on how much the paying party can afford. For instance, if you are in a job through which you only receive variable income (i.e. a contractor, small business owner), then the courts will often use an average of your earnings in the past five years to fix the amount of alimony due.
Duration of Awards
If alimony is awarded to one party, odds are is that a court will only make the paying party make alimony payments for a fixed duration. Generally, this will not be a life-long expense as one of the purposes of alimony is to help the non-paying spouse adjust to single life. However, it is important to note that, if a party is required to pay alimony, that party can request a modification in the amount or to terminate support altogether if they are let go from his or her job, the non-paying party starts to cohabitate with a significant other or remarries, or if the non-paying party dies.
Contact our NJ Family Lawyers at Davis & Mendelson
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