One of the most frequent questions asked in initial divorce consultations
is whether alimony be required in a case, and if so, how long it will
be payable and how much will the payments be. Unlike child support, there
is no alimony calculator to determine how much it will be, and for how
New Jersey law looks to a variety of factors when courts are asked to award alimony.
These factors include:
1) need and ability of the parties to pay;
2) duration of the marriage;
3) age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
4) standard of living established during the marriage;
5) earning capacity and employability of the parties;
6) length of the absence from the job market of the party seeking support;
7) parental responsibilities for the parties’ children;
8) time and expense necessary to obtain extra training and employment;
9) history of contribution to the financial status of the marriage, including contributions in the form of caring for the parties’ children;
10) the equitable distribution of assets ordered by the court;
11) income from investments;
12) tax implications to both parties;
13) length and amount of temporary support; and
14) anything else the court decides is relevant.
From this list, it is plain that the calculation of an award of alimony is complex, with many moving parts. The first inquiry, as indicated by the factors listed, is whether the requesting party really needs support at all. If the parties have approximately equal earning capacity, that will greatly diminish the chance for an award. It’s also important to inquire whether the paying party has the funds to actually make the payments requested, meaning whether the paying party has the ability to make alimony payments. Moreover, the shorter the marriage, the less likely there is to be an alimony award. If one spouse has spent a portion of the marriage staying home and caring for the parties’ children, this is also something that the courts will take into account. Absence from the work force can make obtaining a job difficult, and the law seeks to acknowledge the contribution to the household made by the parent who stayed home. In 2014, a new law was passed placing additional restrictions on awards of alimony in New Jersey. These new restrictions determined that the length of an award cannot be longer than the marriage itself when the marriage has been less than 20 years. Also, it is possible to have alimony terminated at the time of retirement. This is meant to encourage both parties to plan ahead, and eliminate what was previously called “permanent” alimony. Restrictions have also been tightened on cohabitation, and when that can be used as a means to terminate alimony.
Alimony is an in-depth inquiry that requires reviewing many different elements and analyzing the specific circumstances of your case. We have years of experience in analyzing and arguing these cases, both for husbands and wives.