You might be considering divorce yet concerned that you may have to pay alimony to your spouse. Common questions might include how do I know if I’ll have to pay alimony? How is alimony calculated? How long would I have to pay?
When spouses are unable to agree on payment of alimony, they can have the Court decide for them.
The Court will decide whether one spouse pays alimony, how much and for how long by considering the factors below mandated by the current New Jersey alimony statute:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
- The earning capacities, 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, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
- The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union 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 ordered and any 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 assets held by that party;
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment;
- The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid, if any; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Generally, in New Jersey, the Court is unlikely to award alimony when both spouses have comparable earning capacities.
Where, however, the Court finds that one spouse has a significantly greater earning capacity than the other, for instance, the Court might award alimony until the financially dependent spouse is able to contribute to his or her own support.
For instance, where one spouse financially supported the household during the marriage while the other raised children at home, the Court might award alimony to ensure that both former spouses continue to live a substantially similar standard of living following the end of their marriage.
Take Control by Mutual Agreement
On the other hand, you can avoid Court altogether by reaching mutual agreement with your spouse on alimony, ideally guided by your respective attorneys.
These 2 actions can instantly improve your chances of reaching agreement.
- Gain cooperation from your spouse. For tips on proven persuasive techniques, check out this post and this one.
- Know how much money you have and how much you’ll need to move forward.
Ideally, consult with your financial or tax professional for a long-term plan that meets your financial goals for the future. This can give you valuable guidance for structuring your divorce settlement agreement to meet your expenses, maximize savings and minimize tax consequences. You might consider a buyout of alimony obligation or disproportionate split of the marital assets to help your spouse meet future expenses.
To learn more, please schedule an appointment with me to learn how you can reach agreement with your current or former spouse.