What Is Alimony & Some Vital Facts I Should Know?
Divorce is one of the most emotional, stressful times of your life, but it can also have enormous impacts on your future lifestyle and finances.
Alimony (aka “spousal support”’ is a type of financial support ordered by the New Jersey court for either spouse that’s paid after your divorce is finalized. Alimony laws vary tremendously from state to state, and the New Jersey courts have significant flexibility in determining whether to award alimony, the amount of alimony to award, and for how long alimony any payments will continue.
Also, in New Jersey, any decision to award alimony to either spouse is based on numerous facts and reasons. For example, if you’ve been married (or had a “civil union” )for less than 20 years, the payment of alimony won’t exceed the length of your marriage unless exceptional circumstances exist, such as a chronic illness of one of the former spouses.
In New Jersey, receiving ” palimony ” is possible, which is financial support for exes who never married. However, the payment of “palimony” has significant limitations and legal rules which must be followed.
There are also strict rules as to those who cannot receive alimony. For example, if you have been convicted of murder, manslaughter, criminal homicide, aggravated assault, or other severe crimes and:
- The crime results in serious bodily injury or death to a family member of a divorcing party.
- The crime was committed after marriage or civil union.
- Or if you’ve been convicted of an attempt or conspiracy to commit murder.
One of the main points to remember regarding Alimony in N.J. is that unlike child support, which strict New Jersey Child Support Guidelines determine, there is no standard legal formula to decide whether or not you should receive alimony or how much or long these payments may continue.
This is why working with an experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive Morris County divorce lawyer is mandatory. Your lawyer will know what information to compile, how to structure the argument, and how best to represent you in your request for needed alimony payments.
How Do I Know If I’m a Candidate for Alimony?
You and your detailed and thorough divorce lawyer must negotiate this issue with opposing counsel or prove this difficult question to the court.
As stated, there is no standard “formula” for deciding if you should receive alimony in New Jersey. Still, this decision is primarily based on 14 statutory factors outlined in the New Jersey statute 2A:34-23 Alimony, Maintenance.
This statute discusses the actual need and ability of the party to pay, the duration of the marriage or civil union, and the age and physical and emotional state of both spouses.
These statutes also are pertinent to the standard of living established throughout your marriage and if both spouses can maintain a continued reasonably comparable standard of living.
Much more must be determined, such as both spouses’ earning capacities, educational and vocational skills, and their respective employability. For example, it may work in your favor if you (if asking for alimony) were primarily responsible for the care of the children and family and, therefore, absent from the job market for a lengthy period.
There’s a vast amount of financial evidence and facts to gather, and your Morris County divorce lawyer’s skill in collecting, presenting, and arguing your case to the New Jersey courts will be invaluable to obtaining what you need.
Does Permanent Alimony Exist in New Jersey?
The simple answer is that usually, it does not; however, there are exceptions due to considerations that the court may make.
Around 2014, New Jersey restructured its entire alimony system. One of the more significant changes was almost eliminating “permanent” alimony.
New and permanent rules were established; for example, if your marriage lasted ten years, your alimony was allowed for up to ten years.
However, if “exceptional circumstances” exist, some rulings may differ, such as:
- The ages of you, and your spouse, at the time of marriage and your divorce.
- The amount on which one spouse was financially dependent on the other.
- If either spouse has a chronic illness or another complicated or dire health issue.
- If one spouse received a considerably more significant share of the shared estate.
- How your marriage affected the other spouse’s ability to become self-supporting.
- Specific tax considerations and more.
However, these changes to New Jersey’s alimony are not retroactive, and won’t affect you if your alimony payment was mandated before the new laws apply.
Again though, you see that the New Jersey court’s decisions on alimony can be highly subjective, and the professional help of your detailed and knowledgeable Morris County divorce law team will always fight for your best financial outcome.
If Circumstances Change, Can My Alimony Be Changed By the Court?
Today, our lives (and financial situations) change constantly, and alimony can last long. So, when you receive payments, you or your ex could lose a job, get seriously ill, or even retire.
If your ex-spouse’s (or your) financial situation changes, you can work with your lawyer to petition the court to modify your alimony order. For example, a common reason to seek a modification of alimony is due to one of you suffering a decrease in income.
Usually, if you suffer a loss of income and you are the payor, you can ask for a reduction in alimony after a period of time passes.
The New Jersey court will consider many factors when determining to change your alimony, such as:
>The specific reason for your income loss
> The supporting spouse’s efforts to find new or better employment
>If your supporting spouse has, in good faith, tried to find a new job
>Both you and your supporting spouse’s income, and more.
So, it’s best to start by consulting with your Morris County family law team and detailing the changes that have occurred that could have a direct and positive impact on the alimony you pay or receive.
I’m Getting Divorced and Need Alimony; What Should I Do?
Commonly, when you get divorced, your lifestyle is likely to change. However, from the New Jersey court’s point of view, alimony is not meant to be a punishment to one spouse or any type of windfall to the other.
A fair goal is an objective to help ensure that both parties can maintain a comparable lifestyle to their married one.
The Morris County family law and divorce lawyers at the Edens Law Group have been successfully and empathetically helping New Jersey clients deal with alimony and many other critical issues since 1994. Call them today at (908) 529-0353, and they will professionally counsel you on the legal rights and options you hold.