Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a crucial aspect of many divorce proceedings. It is a periodic payment of support that one spouse may be required to provide to the other spouse when they are living separate and apart or have been divorced. It is designed to ensure that both parties can maintain a comparable standard of living to that which they enjoyed during the marriage. The courts in New Jersey consider several factors when determining spousal support and its amount.
Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b)), courts consider a wide range of factors, including but not limited to:
- Need and Ability to Pay: The party seeking support must demonstrate a need and the other party must have the ability to pay.
- Duration of the Marriage: The length of the marriage or civil union. Longer marriages often result in longer alimony awards.
- Standard of Living: The standard of living established during the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living post-divorce, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other.
- Earning Capacities: The court must consider the earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties.
- Parental Responsibilities: The court must consider the parental responsibilities for the child(ren), if there are any.
- Age and Health: The court must consider the age, physical, and emotional health of the parties.
- Contributions to the Marriage: The court must consider the contributions, financial and non-financial, of each party to the marriage or civil union, including homemaking and childcare as well as interruption of the parties’ personal careers or educational opportunities.
- Equitable Distribution: The equitable distribution of property and any payouts from that property are also relevant.
Calculation of Spousal Support
New Jersey does not have a formula for calculating the amount of spousal support. Instead, the judge will make a determination based on the factors listed above. The goal is to help the supported spouse live as closely as possible to the marital standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other.
However, New Jersey law does provide guidelines for the duration of alimony. For marriages that lasted less than 20 years, the term of alimony may not exceed the length of the marriage, except in exceptional circumstances.
Types of Spousal Support
There are different types of spousal support that may be awarded in New Jersey:
- Open Durational Alimony: Generally awarded in long-term marriages or marriages lasting greater than 20 years. There is no set end date.
- Limited Duration Alimony: Alimony awarded for a specific period of time. Limited duration alimony may be awarded in marriages lasting less than 20 years.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: A temporary support award meant to help a spouse become self-supporting.
- Reimbursement Alimony: May be awarded if one spouse supported the other while they pursued higher education.
The determination of spousal support in New Jersey is a complex process that considers a multitude of factors. If you are going through a divorce, it is wise to consult with a seasoned family law attorney who can guide you through this process and advocate for your interests.
If you or someone you know has a question regarding alimony or spousal support, contact the Williams Law Group, at (908) 810-1083, today to learn more about how we can assist you.