New Jersey Alimony Lawyer
Divorce can be a stressful and often overwhelming process. Even after the separation has been finalized, disputes over alimony and child support can remain. It is important to know what type of spousal support you may be entitled to in accordance with New Jersey divorce laws. You will need experienced legal counsel, so it is best to consult with a well-practiced divorce lawyer to guide you through this complicated process.
Types of Alimony in New Jersey
Alimony is an agreed payment from one spouse to another after a divorce has been finalized. It is not meant as a penalty for separation. Instead, the purpose of alimony is for both spouses to maintain an equal standard of living comparable to what they had during marriage. In the state of New Jersey, there are four types of alimony: limited duration or temporary alimony, open duration alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and reimbursement alimony. All alimony payments are tax deductible and alimony can be reported as income.
Limited Duration Alimony
Limited duration alimony is temporary spousal support in which payments are made for a fixed amount of time. In New Jersey, the length of limited duration alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage. This type of alimony usually applies to marriages of less than 20 years in which the spouse receiving payments is likely to become self-sufficient at some point in the future.
The amount of alimony paid during this fixed time can be subject to change. However, the length of time itself cannot be modified once it has been appointed.
Open Duration Alimony
Formerly known as permanent alimony, open duration alimony applies to marriages over 20 years in which there is a relatively large disparity between incomes after divorce. For example, if one spouse was a homemaker or gave up career opportunities in order to support the other, they will likely never be able to reach the same standard of living they had during marriage. When this type of alimony is awarded, there is no fixed end date. However, payments may be modified if circumstances such as retirement or remarriage occur.
Rehabilitative alimony is a series of payments made by one spouse so that the other can become self-sufficient. For instance, if one spouse wishes to pursue a degree or some form of vocational training after divorce in order to become fully independent, then the court may order the other spouse to pay alimony to support this goal. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded for a set timeframe based on the receiving spouse’s plan to become self-sufficient. This can be issued alongside limited duration or open duration alimony.
Reimbursement alimony is awarded when one spouse has provided financial support to further the other’s education, such as medical or law school, but is unable to share in the earnings generated from that higher education because of the divorce. If both spouses contributed to an advanced degree during marriage, then New Jersey law stipulates that both spouses are entitled to the benefits. Reimbursement alimony can be awarded along with other types of alimony and is not subject for modification.
What Determines Alimony in New Jersey?
In the state of New Jersey, there is no specific formula when it comes to calculating alimony. Duration and amount of spousal support is unique to each situation. To determine how much alimony (and what type) will be awarded, there are several various factors that courts will take into consideration. This includes:
- the ability of a spouse to make payments
- the need for a spouse to receive payments
- length of the marriage and standard of living established during that time
- financial contributions to the marriage
- health and age of the spouses
- education level and potential earning capacity (employability)
- cost of living
- income discrepancy
- division of assets
- childcare responsibilities
The courts will take into consideration the above factors to determine what type of alimony, if any, should be awarded. Yet there are a few other factors that could contribute to the termination or modification of an alimony agreement.
Complications with Alimony in New Jersey
If one spouse has an affair during the marriage, they will not be penalized for it and are still eligible to receive alimony. However, they will be at fault if the affair caused a negative financial impact upon the marriage. Likewise, any spouse convicted of a serious crime such as murder or grand theft cannot receive any alimony whatsoever.
Sometimes alimony duties are neglected, and payments are missed. A spouse cannot intentionally stop working just to increase the amount of alimony they will receive. If you stop making alimony payments, you may be held in contempt of court. Certain circumstances, however, require a modification in alimony, such as a career change or lay-off. If you are unable to make payments, or if you believe you need to receive more, then you must file a request to modify the alimony plan. Whichever side requests the change is also responsible for proving that the change is justified. If you need to change or modify your alimony arrangement, you also need an experienced New Jersey alimony lawyer by your side.
How a New Jersey Alimony Lawyer Can Help
Because the law regarding alimony in New Jersey is so vague, it will be hard to come up with an agreeable solution without assistance from an outside party. Situations like this can often be very emotional and contentious, and cooperation may be hard to come by. It is best to speak with a knowledgeable New Jersey alimony lawyer like Bart W. Lombardo in order to sort out any intricacies and questions you might have.
If you are having an issue when it comes to negotiating alimony, please contact our New Jersey alimony lawyer today for a free consultation. We will see your case from start to finish and ensure that you reach a fair agreement.