Alimony is the payment of money by one ex-spouse to the other following a divorce, generally for the purpose of allowing the recipient to maintain a similar lifestyle to the one enjoyed during the marriage. Nevertheless, as explained below, alimony may have other purposes as well, depending on the facts of each case.
New Jersey’s alimony statute provides for four different types of alimony that can be awarded as part of a divorce in New Jersey: (1) open durational (previously known as permanent alimony); (2) limited duration; (3) rehabilitative; and (4) reimbursement.
Understanding which type (or types) of alimony might be appropriate in your case is a critical part of your divorce.
New Jersey does not have any specific formula for the calculation of alimony. Instead, New Jersey law provides a non-exhaustive list of factors to consider, including the length of the marriage, the type and value of the assets of the parties, the economic circumstances of the parties, the parties’ education and employability, and the standard of living established during the marriage.
Most significantly, courts tend to focus on the marital lifestyle the parties had during the marriage, and attempt to use alimony as a way of ensuring both parties are able to maintain that lifestyle.
While there is no set formula for the calculation of alimony in New Jersey, it goes without saying that both parties’ incomes are critical to making the determination of whether alimony is necessary, and if so, how much should be paid.
In many cases, a simple look at each parties’ tax returns and supporting schedules and documents provides the income picture for each spouse. Nevertheless, it is possible that either or both of the parties are under-employed, meaning that he or she is earning below their capacity. Perhaps this is because a spouse is only working part-time, or perhaps not working at all. In such cases, it may be necessary to impute income to an under-employed spouse based on the income they could be earning.
As with determining the amount of alimony, there is no set formula in New Jersey to determine the length of time that alimony will last, and consideration must be given to a variety of factors specific to each case. Nevertheless, the newly amended alimony statute now provides that for marriages less than 20 years in duration, the length of alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage, unless exceptional circumstances exist.
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