New Jersey Alimony Attorney
Resolving Alimony Issues in New Jersey
Alimony also known as spousal support is a difficult issue in any divorce. While at first glance it may be easy to guess whether a spouse will need alimony, knowing whether the supporting spouse will have the ability to pay it in a sufficient amount going forward in this trying economy is another issue all together. When you are going through a divorce, it is hard enough to assimilate all of the information you may be hearing for the first time therefore you need someone in your corner, someone who will fight to make sure you receive the proper amount of alimony or conversely, to make sure you do not overpay alimony (more than what you are able to pay and what your spouse needs). The primary purpose of alimony in New Jersey is to permit the supported spouse who has less income or earning capacity to live as close to the marital lifestyle post-judgment (after the divorce is final) as he or she did while the parties were married.
Unlike child support, there is no set formula for determining how much alimony a person will pay or receive. Some of the factors that the court will consider are:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The parties’ age, physical and emotional health.
- The standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living.
- The earning capabilities, 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, 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 and 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 of any assets held by that party.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both of any alimony award including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment.
Whether you are seeking alimony or expect to pay alimony in your divorce, you should know and understand your legal rights and the factors that the court will consider. Alimony is but one factor in a divorce but it is a sure thing that it will be one of the most contentious issues next to child related matters. To discuss your alimony issue with an experienced Monmouth County alimony lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Sylvia S. Costantino, Esq., LLC today.
Monmouth County Spousal Support Lawyers Helping You Strategize for Maximum Results
Our practice is dedicated exclusively to family and matrimonial law so you can count on us to present you with a sound strategy on your alimony issue whether you expect to be paying or receiving alimony. We strive to meet your objectives by making sure you are a well-informed client.
What Kind of Alimony Are You Entitled to Receive or Should Expect to Pay?
Depending on the facts of your specific case, alimony payments can be made on a permanent basis or a limited duration basis. Alimony payments can also be made weekly, monthly or in one lump sum. The main types of alimony in New Jersey are:
Permanent alimony– these types of spousal support payments are appropriate in long term marriages and the goal is allow the support spouse to live a lifestyle reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage.Limited duration alimony– these types of payments are made for a specified number of months or years. This type of alimony could be awarded by way of settlement but a Court would have to rule out the appropriateness of permanent alimony before it awards a spouse with limited duration alimony.Rehabilitative alimony– is designed to allow the supported spouse time to reenter the workforce and gain the necessary skill set or education to do that. While this is a short-term award of spousal support, rehabilitative alimony can be paid to a spouse along with other types of alimony.Reimbursement alimony - these types of alimony payments are made where one spouse contributed to the other’s education, career, or advancement.
For the spouse who will be paying alimony, we recognize that this is a huge obligation. Especially when there is permanent alimony to be paid to the other spouse, this means many years of having an obligation that will be enforced by the Court if you fail to pay. It is important to keep in mind that while it is a burden to pay alimony, the payments are tax deductible and the person receiving alimony has to claim it as income.
Alimony that is paid to a spouse while the divorce is ongoing is known as pendente lite alimony and it is temporary. The goal of a pendente lite alimony award is to attempt to preserve the status quo that existed during the course of the marriage. What is paid to a spouse in pendente lite alimony is not always reflective of what will be paid to the spouse after the divorce is final. One of the reasons for this is because in addition to pendente lite alimony, the supporting spouse may be ordered by the Court to also pay what is called “roof expenses” i.e. the mortgage on the marital home where the spouse and children are usually living. Again, each case is different so it is important to know your legal rights and assert them early on in your divorce case.
Discovering Income and Assets
A complicated issue that arises when alimony is an issue may be determining the exact income of the supporting spouse. This is especially so for a spouse who owns a business or has other investments. Knowing someone’s exact income can then prove to be difficult. In some cases, it is necessary to enlist the assistance of a forensic accountant who specializes in analyzing a person’s true net worth, performing business valuations and a doing a cash flow or marital lifestyle analysis. Making sure that a spouse discloses all pertinent financial data in a divorce could be crucial to an alimony award.
We want you to make informed decisions in your divorce and know your options. In New Jersey, alimony is a tough issue that can have lasting effects on your entire future once the divorce is final.
Post-Divorce Modifications to NJ Alimony
Many of the post-divorce issues requiring court intervention involve changes in circumstances of either party. When appropriate, New Jersey courts will recognize the need for renewed assessment of the original court orders, and have developed a body of law that sets precedents for factors to be considered when making modifications.
There are various legitimate reasons for modifying, reducing, or terminating New Jersey alimony payments. These reasons can include:
- Significant changes in your employment or that of your spouse
- Remarriage of recipient spouse
- Retirement from your profession
- Illness or injury which affects ability to pay
- Changes in cost of living
- Other significant changes affecting ability to pay
In order for a modification to be considered, the court must deem any of these a “substantial change in circumstances.” Meaning, the change must be substantial enough to have a significant impact on the financial needs of the recipient spouse or on the paying spouse’s ability to pay the current amount.
Additionally, the change in circumstances must generally be of a nature that was unanticipated at the time the alimony order in the judgment was calculated. One cannot simply retire in the year following a divorce and expect to have sufficient ground to request an alimony modification. The court will most likely determine that such a change should have been contemplated at the time of the divorce.
It is also imperative for those seeking a modification to understand that changes in income will be considered only if they were involuntary. Again, one cannot simply give up a lucrative medical practice the year after a divorce to follow their dream of writing fiction. The court will only consider income changes that are involuntary.
Burden of Proof
Someone seeking to modify or reduce their existing alimony order must show that the change in their financial situation leaves them unable to continue making the alimony payments as previously set forth. You must be able to show the court that the changes were both substantial and involuntary. Modifying or reducing alimony is a difficult process, which requires expert legal help.
Termination of alimony happens automatically when the recipient spouse remarries, and the supporting spouse is no longer required to keep making payments.
New Jersey Alimony Attorney
If you have questions about making post-divorce modifications to your existing alimony order, our experienced New Jersey alimony attorneys can evaluate your situation and provide straightforward advice about whether an alimony modification or reduction is pragmatic given your situation. Contact the Law Offices of Sylvia S. Costantino today and let us assist you.
We specialize in Ocean County child support and Monmouth County child support representation.
Call 732-741-2600 to Talk to a Knowledgeable Divorce Attorney About Helping You Assert Your Legal Rights in Family Law
For additional information about our approach to the resolution of alimony or spousal support issues in your divorce, contact the Law Offices of Sylvia S. Costantino, Esq., LLC today. Our firm represents clients in Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Middlesex Counties.