Alimony

Alimony was invented to provide financial support to a spouse in recognition of the sacrifices they (usually the woman) made in the marriage and to level the financial situations between spouses with disparate incomes. The hope was that by awarding financial support to a spouse, that spouse would not have to depend on public assistance. Today, alimony can be awarded to either spouse or neither spouse, depending on the circumstances. And, because there is no set formula for determining how much alimony to award, alimony awards often depend on the ability of a knowledgeable attorney to prove the need (or lack thereof) for alimony. Pontoriero Family Law, LLC can answer any questions you have about alimony and can help pursue or defend against requests for alimony.

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Types of Alimony in New Jersey

New Jersey recognizes several different types of alimony, including:

  • Open duration – Open duration alimony or permanent alimony continues without a specific end date. New Jersey courts only award open duration alimony in cases involving marriages that lasted 20 years or longer unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • Limited duration – Limited duration alimony is the most common type of alimony awarded in New Jersey. When it is awarded, the court specifies how long alimony will be paid, which must be for the length of the language or less unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • Rehabilitative – Rehabilitative alimony is awarded when it is possible for the dependent spouse can likely become self-sufficient by getting some additional job skills or education.
  • Reimbursement – Reimbursement alimony is sometimes awarded in cases in which one spouse contributed financially toward the other spouse’s education, which increased their earning capacity.
  • Temporary alimony – Temporary alimony or pendente lite alimony is awarded only for the course of the divorce. It is intended to maintain the status quo during the divorce.

How Alimony Is Decided in New Jersey

Spouses generally have two options for proceeding with their divorce: reach an amicable agreement on their own (or with the help of lawyers or a mediator) or let the court decide.

If the court determines alimony, it looks to various factors described in New Jersey divorce law, such as:

  • The need and ability of the spouses to pay alimony
  • The length of the marriage
  • The health of the spouses
  • The standard of living the spouses established during the marriage
  • The parties’ earning capacities
  • Whether the parties have children and their parenting responsibilities

The court can also consider any factor it deems relevant to making this decision.

How Long Alimony Lasts

The parties can either agree to how long alimony should last (such as half of the length of the marriage) or also let the court decide.

Even if alimony is awarded for a certain term or for an undetermined duration, the court may be able to order alimony to end when there is a “change of circumstances,” such as:

  • Remarriage or cohabitation of the supported spouse
  • Cohabitation of the supported spouse
  • Retirement of the payor spouse
  • Death

The payor spouse may be required to maintain life insurance in favor of the supported spouse to ensure they will receive these funds.

Temporary alimony only lasts for the length of the divorce.

The alimony award will determine how long alimony must be paid.

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Tax Treatment of Alimony

Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the payor spouse was able to deduct alimony payments they made to the other spouse. The recipient spouse would have to report payments as income. However, for any divorces that occurred as of January 1, 2019 or later, alimony payments were no longer tax deductible.

Enforcing Alimony Awards

Alimony awards are court orders, so if the payor spouse is not paying alimony as they are required to, the supported spouse may be able to file a motion for contempt of court to enforce the order. The court has wide discretion in enforcing its orders. In appropriate circumstances, it may order:

  • The payor spouse to make up missed payment in one lump sum
  • The payor spouse’s employer to garnish their wages
  • The payor spouse to hand over certain assets

The issuance of a warrant for the payor’s spouse

Contact a Knowledgeable New Jersey Family Lawyer for Assistance

New Jersey alimony laws are complex. Whether or not alimony is awarded can have a dramatic impact on your life for years to come. If you would like assistance in requesting alimony, denying a request for alimony, or negotiating a divorce agreement regarding alimony, a family  lawyer from Pontoriero Family Law, LLC can help. Susan Pontoriero has 15 years of legal experience she can put to use to assist you. Contact our firm today at (732) 785-9700 to arrange a confidential consultation.

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Pontoriero Family Law, LLC

2597 Hooper Avenue
Brick, NJ 08723