North Jersey Law Firm Breaks down Alimony into 5 Types
Alimony, also called spousal support, is a legal obligation for a person to provide financial support to a spouse after divorce. Once a marriage is dissolved either spouse can petition the court for interim support. Alimony is not an absolute right and a strong case must be presented in order for it to be received. The type, terms and amount all vary depending on the circumstances and the kind of alimony that is granted.
At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, L.L.C., with offices in Morristown, New Jersey, our divorce attorneys have the knowledge required to effectively address the issue of alimony in New Jersey. We have aided numerous clients with diverse circumstances. If your case involves high net worth or high profile divorce, division of business assets, or complex property distribution, our family law professionals will fiercely advocate to achieve the best outcome. We will work to achieve an efficient, cost-effective agreement. One that can make all the difference for you in your post-divorce life.
The 5 Types of Alimony in New Jersey
In New Jersey five types of alimony are recognized: temporary alimony, limited duration alimony, permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and reimbursement alimony.
- Temporary alimony (alimony pendente lite) is granted to unemployed or low-earning spouses for the purpose of helping to cover living expenses during divorce proceedings.
- Judges can award limited duration alimony, based on financial need, for as long as is necessary for you to become self-supporting.
- One may be entitled to permanent alimony after a long marriage if you gave up career or educational opportunities to care for your family, or to advance your spouse’s education or career. If permanent alimony is requested, the court examines the factors listed below to determine if you qualify, and then determines if any of the other support orders are appropriate in addition to the permanent order.
- In the case of rehabilitative alimony, the requesting spouse is obligated submit to the court the steps to be taken for rehabilitation, the time frame and a period of employment to occur during the rehabilitation period.
- Reimbursement alimony is compensation to a spouse who supported the other spouse through advanced education, and who expected to enjoy the fruits of that labor.
Any combination of these orders may be awarded by the court. Meaning that if the court makes an order for rehabilitative spousal support, it can also order reimbursement alimony, in addition to limited duration alimony.
Factors for Alimony Awards in my Morristown Divorce
When determining the duration and amount of an alimony award, the judges look at many factors, including:
- the requesting spouse’s needs and the other’s ability to pay
- how long the marriage lasted
- the age of each spouse as well as physical and emotional health
- the income of each spouse, earning capacity, education level, and employability
- the standard of living during marriage
- parental responsibilities
- time and expense necessary to gain education and/or training for the dependent spouse to become self-supporting
- the financial or non-financial contributions mad by each spouse to the marriage.
At this time there are no specific alimony calculators or guidelines for support in New Jersey; courts make decisions based on the above listed factors and thus awards can vary. This is one of the reasons why effective legal representation is so critical.
Alimony Modification and Termination in Morris County
A judge may modify limited duration alimony and rehabilitative alimony orders circumstances change. Court orders based on assumed events that did not occur may be grounds to modify an order—for example, if the supported spouse could not be rehabilitated within the expected time, or was unable to find a job to become self-supporting.
Should the recipient spouse remarry or enter into a New Jersey civil union, the supporting spouse must be informed and alimony payments may be stopped. (However, the supporting spouse must pay any arrearages ,late payments, that have accumulated.) Furthermore, the death of either spouse will terminate all forms of alimony.
Alimony Payments for my Mendham Divorce that are not Based on Marital Fault
Although courts rely on several factors – such as the spouses’ ages and earning capacity, among others – to determine alimony payments, the law recognizes that each marriage (or civil union) is different. As a result, courts can take into account any other relevant facts or circumstances when calculating a just payment. These may include tax consequences, the equitable distribution of marital property, and even investments that may mature at a future date.
Marital fault is not taken into account for alimony purposes. Meaning that even a spouse who behaved badly during marriage can still get alimony. Example can include infidelity among other. In essence, an affair will not count against the unfaithful spouse unless it is economically relevant (such as where one spouse spent marital savings on a lover).
In rare cases where marital fault caused economic damage, then alimony can be either increased or reduced based on that negative impact. Also, by law, a court can’t award alimony to a spouse who commits a serious crime like murder or aggravated assault against a family member during the marriage or civil union. Likewise, a spouse who plans to kill the other – even if those plans fail – will not receive alimony. In any event, a court may deny alimony in circumstances where one spouse’s bad act makes it unjust to force the other to maintain economic ties.
When a Spouse Won’t Work
The court will not allow a spouse to avoid alimony responsibilities by voluntarily working less or not working at all. In fact, the court may “impute” income. This means it can assign an amount that the unemployed or under-employed spouse should be making, based on past earnings. However, a court will not impute income when the supporting spouse becomes disabled or loses a job involuntarily.
Changing the Amount of Alimony
Spouses can’t avoid their alimony responsibilities, however, with court approval, they can reduce or increase the amount due. Whether or not the court changes payments depends on how economic circumstances have changed and the type of alimony previously awarded.
Usually, the court reviews finances of both spouses when determining to modify the amount of alimony or not. A decrease or increase in payments is warranted when there is a substantial change in circumstance, such as the loss of a job or a higher paying job has been obtained. Other reasons for modification include increases in the cost of living, disability, illness or if the dependent spouse moves in with another partner in a marriage like situation. In addition, if the type of alimony is of limited duration or rehabilitative, the court can modify payments when an expected event, like a spouse’s completion of an educational program, has occurred.
Tax Implications of Alimony
Alimony payments are tax deductible to the paying spouse and should be reported as income by the receiving spouse until the end of 2018.
However the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill”, which will take effect January 1st 2019 will reverse this. Current taxation laws allow individuals who are paying alimony to a former spouse to deduct those alimony payments from their income before paying income tax. The tax on alimony was declared by the recipient. But, under the 2019 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act alimony recipients will no longer be required to pay income tax on the alimony that they receive and the payer will no longer be able to deduct these payment from their annual income before filing taxes.
For this reason it is crucial to speak to your Morristown Alimony Attorney to gain experienced guidance on the tax implications of your alimony.
If financial need can be adequately shown, the court can order the other spouse to pay for lawyers’ fees.
New Jersey Statutes
2A:34-25: Termination of Alimony
2A:34-23: Alimony, maintenance
Contact Our Morristown NJ Alimony Attorneys for a Free Consultation
Divorce can cause a great deal of uncertainty. Questions about alimony often bring questions about your future, your rights, and your responsibilities. With a skilled and experienced divorce attorney on your side, you can make informed, confident decisions that best serve your interests. Contact the Morris County law offices of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark today to understand your available options. One of our New Jersey divorce attorneys will answer your questions and provide you with a cost-free initial consultation.
For additional information and the answers to your pressing questions, contact us at 866-957-2982 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys.