Factors to be Considered for Alimony Awards in New Jersey
In New Jersey, alimony determinations are not made using a set formula in the same way that child support calculations are. Instead, alimony varies on a case-by-case basis, as the court utilizes a list of factors to arrive at these awards. New Jersey’s Alimony Statute, found in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, enumerates the specific factors that must be weighed when making a determination of alimony in a given divorce case.
Factors of Alimony in New Jersey
New Jersey’s alimony factors range from the actual need and ability of the parties to pay, to the earning capacities of both parties. Not only will the court consider the duration of the marriage, but they will also take into account you and your spouse’s respective ages, health, education, and parental responsibilities for the children. Alimony factors also involve the time, education, and expense that may be required for one party to re-enter the workforce if one spouse sacrificed their career to care for the children. Care-taking responsibilities for the children moving forward are also important influencers of alimony. Similarly, the court will consider each party’s contributions to the marriage, including financial and non-financial contributions.
The standard of living during the marriage is also important because both parties are equally entitled to maintain a similar standard of living under the law. It is important to note, however, that the court will consider the increase in cost of living when a couple becomes two individuals with separate residences and living expenses. This is likely to impact the standard of living that each is able to maintain after the marriage. The property settlement after equitable distribution may also influence the alimony award, as well as the tax implications of alimony payments for both parties and the separate assets that may be available to either party. The court is also given to discretion to consider any other factors that may be deemed relevant.
It is important to note that the law requires the court to give each of the aforementioned factors equal weight. However, if a judge assigns more value to one factor than another, he or she must provide a written explanation for this assessment.
In the Alimony Reform Bill of 2014, New Jersey legislators added a list of factors designated “exceptional circumstances” that should also be considered if applicable to a given case. These added exceptional circumstances, which may impact the amount or duration of an alimony arrangement, include:
- The ages of the parties at the time of the marriage or civil union and at the time of the alimony award;
- The degree and duration of the dependency of one party on the other party during the marriage or civil union;
- Whether a spouse or partner has a chronic illness or unusual health circumstance;
- Whether a spouse or partner has given up a career or a career opportunity or otherwise supported the career of the other spouse or partner;
- Whether a spouse or partner has received a disproportionate share of equitable distribution;
- The impact of the marriage or civil union on either party’s ability to become self-supporting, including but not limited to either party’s responsibility as primary caretaker of a child;
- Tax considerations of either party;
- Any other factors or circumstances that the court deems equitable, relevant and material.
Often, divorcing spouses have vastly divergent opinions as to what is a fair alimony arrangement following their marriage. In these cases, divorce litigation may be required to reach a resolution. In other cases, the parties’ respective attorneys can negotiate a settlement that is mutually agreeable. Regardless of the circumstances of your divorce, it is highly advisable to have an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney advocating for your interests. The divorce lawyers at The Montanari Law Group regularly assist clients with issues of alimony and divorce in Passaic County and surrounding communities. Contact their offices in Little Falls at 973.233.4396 today to receive your free initial consultation.