Regardless of why or how your marriage is ending, you may feel uncertain about your financial stability in the future. Whether you are the one to pay or receive payments, you are bound to have questions about spousal support and alimony in New Jersey. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions the attorneys at Ziegler Law Group LLC have received from our clients.
What is Alimony?
Alimony is also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance in New Jersey. Generally, alimony is a general sum of money that is paid during and after a divorce or dissolution of a civic union.
Alimony is used to prevent financial instability for couples undergoing a divorce. Ideally, spousal support payments ensure that both parties can continue living as they had prior to the divorce. However, spousal support is often reserved for when one spouse has a much higher income than the other.
In most cases, alimony is temporary—unless you have been married for more than 20 years. Then, you may be eligible for permanent alimony which is called open-duration alimony in New Jersey.
Does Cheating Affect Alimony in New Jersey?
Being that New Jersey is a “no-fault” divorce state,” whether one party has engaged in an affair has no bearing on whether alimony is awarded or how much needs to be paid. Alimony is calculated using established criteria to discern how much alimony is to be awarded. But if marital money was used by the person cheating you may be able to make a claim for half of the funds used in your divorce.
How Are Alimony Amounts Calculated?
In New Jersey, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for calculating alimony amounts. Family courts make a decision that is unique to each case, based on a couple of factors, including:
- Need: Does one individual require support to maintain a quality of life similar to what they had when married? If yes, the amount of alimony may increase.
- Ability to pay: Can the spouse being asked to pay maintain the responsibility of paying alimony?
- Earning capacity: How much money can the paying party potentially make, based on their work history and education? Has the spouse been absent from the workforce? Is any training required to maintain or gain employment?
- Standard of living: How much does it cost to maintain the lifestyle that the married couple had when together? This is taken into account for both parties.
- Marriage duration: For marriages that are less than 20 years, the term of the alimony will not exceed the length of the marriage, unless there are specific circumstances.
- Health: Is the paying spouse affected by their mental or physical health? If they have health or mental conditions, does that affect their ability to pay or maintain a decent standard of living?
- Age: Depending on how close someone is to retirement age affects how much they need to pay in spousal support.
- Income and assets: The amount of income available to each spouse, as well as profits from investments and business, are taken into account.
- Contributions: Did one spouse contribute more financially than others? Who maintained the home? Was one spouse disruptive or helpful when caring for children?
- Parenting obligations: Are children involved? Younger children warrant more support than older, adult children.
- Other factors: It is up to the family court to include any other factors when considering alimony amounts.
What if a Spouse is Unemployed?
Unemployment may affect alimony payments, but it depends on the ruling of the court. For example, if a spouse is unemployed because they left their job, the court may calculate their alimony payments based on what they had earned before leaving their position. This is known as “imputation of income.” The court will also take into consideration an individual’s level of education, experience, and disabilities.
How Long Do You Need to be Married For Alimony in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, while the length of a marriage is considered when awarding (or not awarding) alimony, there is no set duration to trigger alimony eligibility. Typically, should a marriage last about 10 years or less, the alimony term could be half of the marriage’s duration or a little more. So you could possibly receive 5-7 years of alimony for a 10-year-long marriage depending on many other factors.
Should a couple be married for longer than 20 years, alimony may go the length of the marriage or be ruled as permanent but called open duration. Any marriage that was less than 20 years will be temporary, unless exceptional circumstances, like chronic illness or disability.
Is Alimony Taxed?
Any alimony that was awarded before 2019 is considered taxable income in New Jersey. The party who was paying the alimony was also entitled to a tax deduction for these payments. However, as of 2019, any alimony that was ordered or agreed upon after 2019 or later is no longer considered taxable or tax deductible for either party.
What Happens to Social Security Benefits When Divorced?
If you were married for 10 years or longer, you will most likely be granted 100% of your own social security benefits and 50% of your spouse’s. That 50% is not coming directly from the other party—they still have access to their full benefits.
Can Child and Spousal Support Be Granted During a Separation?
Temporary alimony may be available when you are undergoing a legal separation. Again, this depends on the ruling of the court. Temporary spousal and child support may be paid by the consent of both involved parties. Alternatively, one party can petition with a “notice of motion,” a formal application that asks the family court to order the other party to pay alimony for a set period. Usually, this is to supply the non-earning or lesser-earning party with some financial support, especially when there are young children involved.
Consult a Divorce Lawyer in New Jersey Today
When you are going through a divorce, there are many questions that will arise. If you have reviewed these FAQs about spousal support and alimony and still have things to ask, speak to one of the experienced and compassionate lawyers at Ziegler Law Group LLC. We can discuss your situation, provide you with solutions, and help you determine which option is best for you. To learn more about your case or receive help with spousal support or alimony, contact the attorneys at Ziegler Law Group LLC today by calling us at 973-878-4373.
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