Divorce is inevitably going to have an economic impact on those involved. Alimony exists to limit any unfair economic impact by providing support to the spouse who either doesn’t earn a wage or whose wages are lower. Sometimes, spouses entitled to alimony don’t know it or aren’t sure if asking for it is the right thing. Consulting with an attorney who has experience in alimony cases can help you clarify your options.
Sometimes referred to as spousal support, alimony is not intended to be a windfall or a permanent meal ticket. Rather, it is meant to establish fairness and equity, so that one spouse doesn’t suffer an unfair financial hit as a result of divorce. It is usually temporary (lifetime alimony in New Jersey was axed in 2014) and is mostly for those exiting longer-term marriages.
Our East Brunswick alimony attorneys can help you examine the facts of your case to determine whether it makes sense to ask for alimony in what amount and for how long.
Do I Even Have a Chance at Winning Alimony?
Your attorney is the best one to answer this question.
One of the first things your divorce lawyer will want to know if you ask this question is how long you were married. Per the alimony reforms codified in Section 2A:34-23, the duration of alimony payments can’t exceed the length of the marriage – unless the marriage was for more than 20 years or there are exceptional circumstances.
Unlike child support, there is no set formula for calculating alimony. However, there are more than a dozen statutory factors outlined in New Jersey law that judges weigh. During marriage, couples share finances, assets and liabilities. It’s not uncommon for one to step into the role of breadwinner while another the other might step back from their career to care for children or manage their household. Alimony can help offset the disparate financial impact of choices.
A family law judge will examine things like:
- The length of the marriage.
- The actual need and ability of parties to pay.
- The earning capacity, education level, vocational skills and employability of both parties.
- The age, physical and emotional health of those involved.
- Parental responsibilities.
- The degree to which one spouse depended on the other.
- Whether one spouse gave career support to the other.
- Whether one spouse received a disproportionate share of the marital estate.
- The standard of living established during the marriage. Both parties are considered equally entitled to maintain that (if reasonable/possible).
- Tax considerations. (Before a 2017 federal tax law, alimony obligors could deduct alimony on a pre-tax basis, with the recipient – in a lower tax bracket – then claiming it as income. Now, however, for alimony judgments entered after Jan. 1st 2019, payments are no longer tax deductible by the obligor and are not taxed to the recipient.)
Because there are so many factors (and some can be quite nuanced), it’s important to consult with a divorce attorney experienced in handling alimony claims so you know whether you should ask for it – or be prepared to respond to a request.
If you have questions about an alimony settlement or modifying an alimony award, contact the East Brunswick alimony attorneys at Rozin-Golinder Law LLC by calling (732) 810-0034.