Spousal Support & Alimony
Spousal Support (Alimony)
In 2014, New Jersey made its first substantial changes in decades when it amended and reformed the State’s spousal support law, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23. For the first time, the new law established limits as to the duration of alimony and made changes as to what factors were to be considered when modifying or terminating spousal support. The newly revised law does not apply retroactively, meaning if you were divorced prior to the date of its enactment, September 10, 2014, the prior law will still apply. However, the new law does apply to applications to modify spousal support entered before September 10, 2014 based upon changes of circumstances and retirement.
In all divorces, the Court may award one or more of the following types of alimony: open durational alimony; rehabilitative alimony; limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony to either party.
What is Open Durational Alimony?
Prior to alimony reform, this form of alimony was called “permanent” alimony. Open Durational alimony typically applies to marriages over 20 years of length, when there is an extended economic dependence between the parties and a long-term contribution from both parties toward the marriage. The idea is that the alimony has an open term until either the parties agree to terminate it or the Court terminates the obligation. This type of alimony can be modified by the Court based upon either party demonstrating a substantial change of circumstances.
What is Rehabilitative Alimony?
Rehabilitative alimony is alimony payable for a short, but specific period of time that ends when the recipient is in a position of self-support after reasonable efforts. rehabilitative alimony is typically awarded or agreed upon when one spouse has been out of the workforce for substantial time and need more education and/or skills to increase their ability to support themselves. The most usual scenario for rehabilitative alimony is when one parent stopped working to take care of children and needs to have their skills updated to obtain gainful employment.
What is Limited Duration Alimony?
As the name implies, limited duration alimony is limited and not to exceed the length of the marriage, except in exceptional circumstances. Limited duration alimony is available for marriages of less than 20 years in duration. Like open durational alimony, limited duration alimony can be modified by the Court based upon either party demonstrating a substantial change of circumstances. While each case is different and determinations can vary, typically Courts will award limited duration alimony for a period equal to half the length of the marriage, unless a party can prove exceptional circumstances. In determining whether exceptional circumstances warrant an increase in the duration of alimony, the Court considers a separate set of factors.
What is Reimbursement Alimony?
Rarely used, reimbursement alimony is available to reimburse a party for financial contributions paid to help the other party obtain a degree for a professional training during the marriage. Reimbursement alimony can cover all financial contributions toward the other party’s education, including household expenses, educational costs, school travel expenses and any other contributions used by the supporting spouse in obtaining their degree or license.
In determining what type of alimony, the duration, and amount, a Court in New Jersey will consider and weigh the following factors:
(1) The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
(2) The duration of the marriage or civil union;
(3) The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
(4) The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
(5) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
(6) The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
(7) The parental responsibilities for the children;
(8) The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
(9) The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
(10) The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
(11) The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
(12) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment;
(13) The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid, if any; and
(14) Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
The weight that the Court gives each of these factors is dependent upon the arguments you make and the evidence you can produce. That is why it is absolutely essential to hire knowledgeable, experienced counsel to represent you in your matter. No matter how strong you think your case is, the proper presentation of your position goes a long way toward obtaining the spousal support arrangement you deserve.
Are you a parent seeking to receive the child support your child needs and deserves? Maybe you pay child support and feel like you are being taken advantage of by your child’s other parent? Rosenberg Family Lawyers can help secure and protect both you and your child’s future by advocating for a fair and just child support order that works for you.
In New Jersey, it is the responsibility of both parents of a child to provide sufficient money so that the child has enough food to eat, clothes to wear and a safe place to live. New Jersey requires parents to support their children until they are emancipated, regardless of which parent they live with. New Jersey law states that children are entitled to share in the current income of both parents, regardless of divorce or non-marriage. The right to child support belongs to the child, not the custodial parent. But the law presumes that the child support is being spent by the custodial parent on behalf of the child.
Child support is typically calculated using a child support guideline worksheet with different variables entered that determine the correct amount of support. The guidelines are used by Courts when the maximum combined net income of both parents is less than $187,200 per year. If you and your child’s other parent earn more than $187,200 per year, a New Jersey Court can supplement the guidelines amount with a discretionary amount of money based on the remaining family income. Child support awards using child support guidelines are based upon the percentage of income spent on children by a large number of families in a variety of social and economic situations, using averages to reflect the diversity of spending by parents.
Expenses incorporated in the child support amounts include: housing, food, clothing, transportation, unreimbursed health care up to $250 per child per year, entertainment, and other miscellaneous items, like personal care and school supplies. While the guidelines attempt to address most major needs of children, they don’t include all expenses. New Jersey Courts have the power to add certain expenses to the child support obligation. Examples of expenses that the Court may add on top of the child support obligation include: child care expenses, health insurance for the child, unreimbursed medical expenses in excess of $250 per child per year, and potentially other expenses as approved by the Court.
Most, but not all income of each parent is included in a child support calculation. If you believe the other parent is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, a New Jersey Court has the power to impute income to that parent based on their potential employment and earning capacity or their former income or the average income for the parent’s former occupation. The numerous variables that can be included in a child support make it absolutely necessary to have knowledgeable and competent legal representation throughout this process.
Many people think that they can save money by going to Court and trying to get a child support award for themselves. Often, those very same people leave child support they could receive on the table or end up paying substantially more than they should be paying. Having an experienced lawyer on your side to make sure your receiving the correct amount of child support is absolutely crucial. Whether you need an initial child support determination or a Rosenberg Family Lawyers has the extensive background, training and experience in child support guidelines calculations to make sure your child receives the support he or she needs.