A divorce is always a tumultuous time for your emotions and your finances. It can easily affect each area of your life, until you are able to process the pain and move on.
Unfortunately, things can get even more complicated and stressful during divorces that involve alimony payments. One spouse might feel entitled to monetary support from a former spouse, while the other is seething with resentment. A couple could spend months bickering over who deserves alimony, and what amount seems fair.
On the bright side, there are some clear rules and guidelines about how alimony in New Jersey really works. Do not get caught off guard by arguments with your spouse or unknown technicalities. It is time for you to prepare by gathering all of the knowledge you need about alimony in New Jersey.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony is a payment made by one spouse to the other after the divorce is finalized. These payments often have a specific end date, in order to prevent spouses from becoming overly dependent on this source of income. In many cases, the alimony payments are issued to help with a very real financial concern that one spouse has after the marriage is over.
In New Jersey, there are four additional types of alimony payments that are important to consider. The first is known as alimony pendente lite, which is a monthly payment that can help one spouse have a greater degree of financial stability during the divorce proceedings. It may be replaced by regular alimony after the divorce is officially finished.
The other three types of alimony refer to particular types of alimony payments made after the marriage is over.
- Limited Duration
This type of alimony grants very short-term payments to spouses who need more help achieving financial stability. These payments may give you time to search for a new position, or find a more affordable place to live. This type of alimony has an end date.
- Rehabilitative Alimony
Sometimes, you may need more than just time to find a great job or a better place to live. Rehabilitative alimony can give you some financial assistance and stability while you pursue more education and training. In turn, this training is meant to give you a better chance at a career that would not leave you dependent on alimony.
- Reimbursement Alimony
When one spouse is a significantly higher earner, it is most likely due to the other spouse sacrificing his or her career.
For example, the lower earner may have helped put the wage-earner through medical school. This spouse sacrificed during this time, expecting to enjoy the long-term benefits of the education. However, the divorce robbed them of that opportunity. Therefore, reimbursement alimony gives him or her a chance to enjoy the advantages of the other spouse’s education.
If you are thinking about alimony in New Jersey, you should know that there is no permanent alimony. All of the above orders can be changed or ended when the paying spouse reaches the age of 67. This law prevents spouses from draining their retirement accounts to pay alimony.
The alimony payments also cannot exceed the length of the marriage. Unless there is a unique circumstance deemed worthy of additional payments by the judge, you cannot ask for alimony payments that last longer than your relationship.
Who Is Eligible for Alimony in New Jersey?
There are no clear guidelines for someone who is eligible to receive alimony in New Jersey. Instead, judges base their decisions on a number of factors. Each of these decisions will be considerations in determining whether or not one spouse can justify his or her request for alimony payments.
The Ability of One Spouse to Make Alimony Payments
The court cannot order your spouse to make alimony payments if there is no money left over at the end of the month. This action would compromise your spouse’s financial stability without truly helping yours. If you could be ordered to pay alimony, this tactic is a great way to avoid making payments to your former spouse.
Another option is taking a lower-paying position that will limit your income to cover your bills, which will mean that nothing is left over for alimony. To make sure that this strategy will work for you, be certain to carefully work with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.
The Receiving Spouse’s Financial Need
Judges want to make sure that they are not giving out alimony payments that were solely intended to be vindictive. Before a judge will sign off on the order, the receiving spouse has to demonstrate that he or she has an actual financial need on a regular basis. This need could be temporary, while the spouse is searching for employment or attending school.
As an added bonus, the judge may even take the cost of that training or schooling into consideration for alimony.
Income of Both Spouses
The amount of money that each person makes will heavily weigh into the decision about who is responsible for alimony payments.
Of course, this money also includes each person’s education level, employability, and earning potential. If you believe that your spouse could make more than he or she is choosing to, you can ask a judge to evaluate his or her employability. This evaluation could reduce the amount of alimony you will have to pay, particularly if the judge believes that your spouse could obtain a good job without additional education.
Former Standard of Living and Length of Marriage
Over the course of a marriage, every couple has a standard of living that they become accustomed to. Alimony payments can help each partner sustain this lifestyle after the marriage is over.
Of course, the length of the marriage plays a key role in determining who is eligible for alimony payments. There are no set guidelines in this area, but longer marriages tend to be entitled to longer alimony payments.
How Parenting Duties Will Be Divided
When one spouse is going to be taking care of the children the majority of the time, it does not seem fair to also burden them with tremendous alimony payments. The care of the children, the ways that their bills will be divided, and other aspects of parenting will be taken into consideration.
Contributions of Both Spouses to the Marriage
You might think that you and your spouse’s contributions to the marriage were pretty clear-cut. However, they can include more than just finances. You may have taken care of the children, so your partner could sustain a promising career or go back to school. These elements are considered to be major contributions to the marriage, and a judge should look at them, in addition to the couple’s finances.
You may also want to bring any personal assets that your spouse has to the table. For example, a trust fund or a rather large savings account could be of particular interest to the court. A spouse who has the financial means to care for himself or herself without alimony payments may not be awarded them.
If you believe that your spouse may have hidden assets somewhere, now is a great time to do some digging. A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst or a forensic accountant should be able to help you with t.
Calculating Alimony in New Jersey
Unfortunately, there is no set formula for calculating alimony in New Jersey. Every situation is going to be completely unique, so a judge should be looking at their finances with an objective eye.
The judge’s decision will be based on the financial needs and disparities of the couple, as they establish separate households. Splitting the other assets fairly will also play a role in determining who is eligible for alimony payments.
When Can Payments Stop?
Alimony in New Jersey allows couples to stop making and receiving alimony payments in a handful of circumstances. As mentioned earlier, the easiest way to end payments is to request a change when you reach the federal retirement age: 67. This change can help protect your investment in a retirement savings account.
Keep tabs on your former spouse, so you will know when he or she starts living with someone new. Cohabitating with a new romantic partner is grounds for swiftly ending your alimony payments, and it is another great way to avoid paying alimony longer than you have to. Be sure to immediately notify the courts if this situation occurs.
In a similar manner, remarriage can end a limited duration or traditional alimony payments. Rehabilitative alimony will still continue, even past their new wedding date. Your best option for ending rehabilitative alimony payments is to notify the courts when your spouse receives a new, well-paying position. This status should be proof that he or she has built a new life to the point of being sufficient without your monthly payments.
When it comes to rehabilitative alimony, it could be a double-edged sword for the spouse that is ordered to pay. A judge can alter the order of the initial alimony if things move along faster than anticipated. However, the opposite is also true. If your spouse needs more time to find a job or finish his or her training, a judge could extend the rehabilitative alimony order to help accommodate a new need. These payments can always be stopped and restarted, in relation to changes in circumstances.
If you find yourself unemployed for more than three months, the payments could be reduced. Keep in mind that this reduction does not apply if you purposely quit your job to avoid making alimony payments. And it is never advised to do something illegal to get out of making a court-ordered payment.
Unless otherwise stated, your alimony payments should not last longer than the duration of your marriage. Make sure that this length remains true for any limited duration or alimony payments that you have been ordered to pay.
You can get around making lengthy alimony payments by divorcing sooner than you otherwise might have. As a result, you will be removed from a miserable marriage significantly faster, which allows you to substantially shorten your potential alimony payments.
Understanding Alimony in New Jersey
When it comes to alimony in New Jersey, there are a lot of factors and considerations to make. Some couples may spend months bitterly fighting over the potential alimony payments that one spouse feels entitled to. The receiving spouse may feel like he or she immensely sacrificed for his or her partner over the years. On the other hand, the paying spouse feels like his or her former partner is financially draining him or her dr. Discussing alimony payments is rarely a pleasant topic for anyone involved.
In the end, judges are entitled to make whatever decisions they feel are best for both parties. You should take note of some of the factors that your judge will use when making his or her decision. This knowledge could help your case, no matter which side of the argument you happen to be on. Arm yourself with some of these expert tips, so that you can make the best possible plan with your attorney.