Unreasonable Support Demands

The end of any marriage means a new financial arrangement for both spouses.  Both spouses will have to rearrange their finances and change their budgets to reflect the new reality of living in two households with two sets of financial obligations.  Divorce is a financially difficult time and if one spouse is financially disadvantaged by virtue of a much lower or non-existent income, he or she may request spousal support on a temporary or long-term basis.  New Jersey provides for spousal support based on a variety of statutory factors, and there are many cases when an award of spousal support is totally appropriate.  However, there are also cases when a spouse will make an unreasonable demand for support.

The most common way an unreasonable support demand usually comes up is in the amount of support.  Unlike child support, there is no calculator or formula to determine spousal support, which makes it more difficult to predict a precise  amount.  That being said, courts will examine the financial situation of both parties, with special attention to the requesting party’s need for spousal support and a paying spouse’s ability to pay.  If the requesting party cannot demonstrate a real need for the amount of support requested, then that support demand may be unreasonable.  Conversely, even if a requesting spouse can show a real need for that precise amount, the demand still may be unreasonable if the paying spouse does not have the ability to pay the amount.  Spouses may very well have to adjust their standard of living following a divorce.  A requesting spouse may no longer be able to reside in the exact type of home or social status as during the marriage because the paying spouse cannot continue to support such a lifestyle.  A support demand to maintain the marital lifestyle may be unreasonable where the paying spouse simply does not have the resources to support such a lifestyle.

Another way that a support demand may be unreasonable is the duration of the support payments.  New Jersey law has specific restrictions as to when a court may award “open durational,” support.  Open durational (which was previously called permanent alimony) alimony is meant for parties who have been in a long-term marriage, defined as a marriage lasting at least 20 years, but that does not stop some spouses from requesting open durational alimony during settlement negotiations even when the parties have not been married for a long time.  If the requesting spouse is seeking an amount of spousal support that he or she would not be able to obtain at trial because of statutory restrictions, then the spousal support demand is certainly unreasonable.

Financial issues in divorce can be complicated and you need an experienced attorney to help you. Contact us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your finances and your divorce.

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