Getting a fair alimony award is important to spouses who may have depended on their ex for support, or who may have forgone educational opportunities or a career of their own to support their soon-to-be former spouse’s career. Alimony awards can be unpredictable in New Jersey family law courts, however, as there is no hard and fast formula for calculating alimony amounts.
Instead, the Garden State has 13 factors courts must consider when making decisions about alimony. They are:
- The need for alimony, and the other spouse’s ability to pay.
- Length of the marriage.
- Age and health of the spouses. Emotional and mental health are also taken into consideration.
- The marital standard of living. How much will spouses need to maintain a comparable standard of living to when they were married?
- The educational attainment, skills, employability, and earning capacity of the divorcing couple.
- Length of absence from the job market of the spouse seeking support.
- Parental responsibilities.
- Time the spouse seeking support will need to find training or education needed to find appropriate employment.
- Financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage by both parties.
- Equitable distribution of marital property.
- Investment income available.
- Tax considerations.
- Other factors the court may consider relevant.
The fact is that New Jersey judges have broad discretion to set alimony amounts. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who knows the process and the personalities involved. Recent changes to New Jersey alimony law shortening the duration of alimony and making it easier to terminate or reduce alimony payments also make having a skilled legal professional worthwhile in family court. Permanent alimony is no longer an option in New Jersey. Again, this makes the services of an experienced family law attorney so important for spouses involved in a divorce suit.
Also, when litigating a divorce, it is important for spouses to
consider the tax implications of alimony. Alimony received is considered taxable income, while alimony paid out is tax deductible. Working with a tax professional and your attorney can help spouses in a divorce negotiate a financial arrangement that is fair, to accommodate both parties’ tax needs. In some cases, arguing for more alimony and less child support, or vice versa, may be a better tactic from a financial standpoint, depending on clients’ individual financial situations.
Working closely with your family attorney, and understanding how judges weigh the factors influencing alimony awards, will help you help your attorney make a clearer, more compelling argument concerning the alimony award.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and divorce. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.