Spousal support or spousal maintenance, commonly referred to as alimony, is a financial arrangement that can occur as the result of a legal separation or divorce. A court can order alimony payments for any set period of time or until certain contributions are repaid.
At The Micklin Law Group, LLC, we help clients throughout New Jersey with their spousal support needs. Our family law attorneys are available to help make a claim for support, to argue against a support order and to step in to enforce or modify spousal support orders.
Factors That Affect Spousal Support
Alimony is not as clear cut as many individuals believe. Instead, many factors come into play in a court’s determination as to whether one party should pay alimony, and if so, how much. New Jersey law lays out several of those factors, including:
- Length of marriage
- Age and health of the parties
- Future earning capacity of the parties
- Accustomed standard of living during the marriage
- The property settlement agreement
- Length of time away from the workforce and time it would take to retrain or get an education
- The payor’s ability to pay and the payee’s financial need
Many of these factors are subjective, which means having a persuasive and skilled attorney by your side can make or break the amount of alimony you pay or receive.
The Various Forms of Alimony in New Jersey
New Jersey allows for several types of spousal support:
- Reimbursement alimony: With this type of alimony, the paying party reimburses the other for the financial contributions he or she provided to the paying party’s career advancement or education.
- Rehabilitative alimony: Alimony payments under this form of alimony last only as long as needed to get the receiving party back into the workforce.
- Limited duration alimony: This type of alimony is set for a specific term or period, such as a number of months or years.
- Permanent alimony: This form of alimony lasts as long as the receiving party needs it, often until remarriage or death.
It matters just as much to have an advocate by your side to help argue for a specific type of alimony as it does in determining the amount of alimony. Attorneys experienced in family law, divorce and financial issues facing families can be key in helping you get the result you desire. Find out what you should know about alimony before divorce.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are no set rules or law regarding alimony amounts and duration. Rather, statute requires courts to determine an appropriate amount and duration of alimony based on consideration of the following factors:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
- The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
- The parental responsibilities for the children;
- 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;
- The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
- 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;
- The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any spousal support award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
One of the things to consider is that alimony affects child support so that, for the person paying alimony, it lowers the gross income of that person for child support calculation purposes, and vice versa. Also, while by no means black letter law, a general guideline often used to estimate alimony is to take 1/3 of the difference in the parties? gross incomes. This is referred to as the Judge Torack Rule. For example, using the Judge Torack Rule, if your gross annual income is $100,000 and her gross annual income is $50,000, your alimony obligation would come out to be $16,667 per year, or $321 per week. ($100,000 – $50,000 = $50,000 / 3 = $16,667). Once again, this is not mandated by statute, rule, case, law or otherwise. It is simply a useful tool practitioners use in estimating what an appropriate alimony award might be. Still, all of the factors listed above must be taken into consideration.
Discuss Your Spousal Support Needs With Our New Jersey Law Firm
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is located in Nutley, NJ and Montclair, NJ. We offer initial consultations to new clients. If you have questions about spousal support in New Jersey or if you would like help pursuing alimony, contact our law firm online or call us at 973-562-0100. We will answer your questions and help you choose which next steps to take.